Five places you should visit to understand the importance of the Wright Brothers invention.
Photo: Chris Stewart/Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart/Chris Stewart

5 key places to visit the amazing history of flight and the Wright brothers in Dayton

Numerous places in Dayton are critical to the history of flight, and they’re places you can visit to feel that history. Here are five of them:


Huffman Prairie 

Considered the first true “airport,” Huffman Prairie Flying Field was pasture land that the Wright brothers borrowed from Dayton banker Torrence Huffman. In 1904 and 1905 the Wrights refined the control of their Wright Flyer II and III models which are considered the first practical airplanes. On the Huffman Prairie the Wrights used a launching system to assist their takeoffs and accumulated 150 flights with more than 300 total minutes in the air. 

The Wrights returned to Huffman Prairie with their Wright Company airplanes in 1910 as a base for testing, a flying school and exhibition team and stayed until 1916. 

RELATED: Some aviation history in on the verge of being lost in Ohio

The crew for Mark Dusenberry, who made his own Wright Flyer III replica, prepares the plane for practice flights Tuesday morning. Dusenberry, from Denison, will fly Friday at the 102nd Anniversary of Practical, Powered Flight celebration at Huffman Prairie Flying Field. Staff photo by Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart/Chris Stewart

Wright Company Factory 

In 1909 the Wright brothers formed the Wright Company to manufacture and sell their airplanes. The following year, the first of two Wright Company Factory buildings was constructed on Abbey Avenue on the west side of Dayton.

A second building was completed in 1911, and 120 airplanes of 13 different models were produced at the factory. This was the first airplane factory in America. The building later became part of General Motors and was expanded to make auto parts. The site was cleared automotive industry buildings in 2014 and Wright Company Factory buildings remain with similar buildings. 

Wilbur and Orville Wright opened the first airplane factory in the country in 1911 inside part of this building along Abbey Avenue in Dayton. The two buildings were duplicated and expanded for auto parts construction that ended with Delphi in 2008. Redevelopment of the historic buildings and surrounding 54 acres have progressed little since the site was cleared of other Delphi buildings in 2014. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Ty Greenlees

Hawthorn Hill 

Hawthorn Hill became the family home of the Wrights in 1914, two years after the death of Wilbur Wright from typhoid. Orville Wright, his sister Katharine and their father, Bishop Milton Wright, lived in the home. The grand house reflects the success of the Wrights and contains Orville’s library and other eccentric treasures. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the home is open for tours by Dayton History. 

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The Dayton Foundation announced Thursday that it was transferring ownership of Hawthorn Hill to Dayton History. The Oakwood mansion, built in 1914, is where Orville Wright lived for decades. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Wright Bicycle Shop 

The Wright Cycle Company Building on S. Williams St. is one of the locations where the Wrights operated their business during the bicycle craze of the late 19th century. Inside this shop managed by the Dayton Aviation National Historical Park are tools and bikes from the time that reflect the changes in bicycle styles of the period to the new “safety” bicycles that the Wrights produced. Many of the lightweight bicycle building techniques translated directly to airplane construction. 

National Park Service historian Ann Honious walks past a new exhibit at the Wright Cycle Shop. CHIRS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart

Wright Brothers National Museum

The only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark, the Wright Flyer III, is located at Carillon Historical Park’s Wright Brothers National Museum. This aircraft was considered by the Wrights as the most important of their work as it was flown at Huffman Prairie to refine the control of flying machines. The Wright Flyer III is on display in Wright Hall, which was designed with input from Orville Wright. 

>> Dayton now home to Wright Brothers National Museum

School groups view the original 1905 Wright Flyer III Thursday in the John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center at Carillon Historical Park. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart/Dayton Daily News

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