The Wright brothers have returned to their experimental home. Sort of.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Artist in Residence brings 1904 Wright Brothers photo back to Huffman Prairie

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

In the early 1900s, one could see the Wright brothers testing their history-changing experiments while traveling from Dayton to Springfield and back.

Today, people can see the brothers working at the same site, in a way.

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park asked longtime photographer and aviation enthusiast Dan Patterson to help recreate what it was like to see Orville and Wilbur Wright living and working all around the area.

“I wanted to put these (photos) up in a public place at life size,” Patterson said, “And people would get, ‘There’s the Wright brothers.’”

The first life-sized photo in the series stands at Huffman Prairie, showing the brothers leaning on one of their flying machines next to a replica of the shed that held the machine. The photo flows into the current structure.

The brothers used Huffman Prairie, now on the grounds of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, as an early testing ground for their flying machines.

“This is where they were standing, within a few feet,” Patterson said. “The replica is on the foundation of the original.”

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Dan Patterson, Artist in Residence with the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park had a 1904 image of the Wright Brothers on Huffman Prairie printed on mesh for display on the site of the original photo. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Dan Patterson, Artist in Residence with the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park had a 1904 image of the Wright Brothers on Huffman Prairie printed on mesh for display on the site of the original photo.  TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Dan Patterson, Artist in Residence with the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park had a 1904 image of the Wright Brothers on Huffman Prairie printed on mesh for display on the site of the original photo. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The photograph is printed on a mesh that will let the wind pass through, produced by a company that creates huge outdoor prints.

“It’s as close to life-size as we could practically get it,” Patterson said.

The Huffman Prairie piece is one of four that the National Park Services asked Patterson to produce.

For Patterson, this is a part of his Evolution in Aviation five-part book series for which he and his co-author wanted to create a new landmark of history in aviation.

“This archival photograph from Wright State is a part of the first book,” Patterson said. “The first paragraph talks about the parallels of the invention of the Kodak camera and the airplane, and how much a parallel track aviation and photography history follow.”

According to Patterson, the project has been in the works for a few years, but once everything was planned it took about a week for the Huffman Prairie piece to be finished.

“I absolutely knew that I wanted to use that picture, because when you step back, the shed and photograph come together,” Patterson said. “That’s exactly where the camera was, which I like.”

Patterson is a Dayton native who has been a photographer for more than 40 years and has published 40 aviation books since 1988. His other three works with the NPS are scheduled to be unveiled for the public in the coming months.

“Orville and Wilbur have returned to Huffman Prairie,” Patterson said.

Combined ShapeCaption
Dan Patterson, Artist in Residence with the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, had a 1904 image of the Wright Brothers on Huffman Prairie printed on mesh for display on the site of the original photo.  TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Dan Patterson, Artist in Residence with the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, had a 1904 image of the Wright Brothers on Huffman Prairie printed on mesh for display on the site of the original photo.  TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Dan Patterson, Artist in Residence with the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, had a 1904 image of the Wright Brothers on Huffman Prairie printed on mesh for display on the site of the original photo.  TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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