How GE Aviation’s headquarters relates to the Wright Brothers

As Cincinnati and Dayton explore ways to grow jobs together in the future, aviation enthusiasts might be interested to know a small connection between the Cincinnati-area headquarters of GE Aviation and the Wright Brothers.

The Wright Brothers’ original company in Dayton, through a series of acquisitions and mergers, evolved into the Wright Aeronautical Company, which established in 1940 a piston engine factory in the northern Cincinnati suburbs, according to GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy. The factory closed after the war. In 1948, General Electric began leasing space in the empty buildings of the former Wright Aeronautical, and it ultimately became the world headquarters of jet engine maker GE Aviation.

The following timeline was provided by GE Aviation, and corroborated with Dayton History.

1909: The Wright Brothers formed the Wright Company in Dayton to build airplanes and engines.

1912: Wilbur Wright dies.

1915: Orville Wright sells his interests in the Wright Company.

1916: Wright Company is merged with Glenn L. Martin Co. of California to become Wright-Martin.

1917: U.S. enters World War I and establishes military installations at Wright flight testing fields in Dayton. After World War II, the flight test fields of Wright Field and Patterson Field were merged into Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

1919: Wright-Martin becomes Wright Aeronautical, an aircraft maker and engine supplier, based in New Jersey.

1929: Wright Aeronautical and Curtiss Aeroplane Motor Company are merged into Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Wright Aeronautical remains a division and produces piston engines.

1940: Lockland, Ohio, is selected by the government for the massive piston engine plant of Wright Aeronautical. Key factors: Proximity to Wright and Patterson flight test fields, and abundance of area skilled mechanists.

1941: In April, production of Wright Cyclone piston engines begins. These engines power the B-17, B-25, and B29 bombers among other aircraft.

1941: In June, Orville Wright is a featured guest of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Wright Aeronautical plant. When the ceremony was to begin, Orville was wandering the plant.

1945: With the World War II over, the Wright Aeronautical plant in Lockland is closed.

1948: General Electric Company establishes a military jet engine operation in government-owned buildings in the old Wright plant (a large portion of the complex was later incorporated into the Evendale suburb).

1948: Orville Wright dies in Dayton.

1970s: New buildings were added over time, and the Evendale operation becomes the headquarters for GE Aviation. GE now owns all of the buildings on the complex.

About the Author