Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine Patent, missing from the National Archives
December 17 is the anniversary of the Wright Brother’s historic first flight in 1903. For most, it’s a day to celebrate a pivotal milestone in aviation history. But here at the National Archives and at other archives, libraries, and museums it’s a reminder of the threat that cultural institutions face on a daily basis. The patent for the Wright Flyer is missing—presumed stolen—last seen in 1979, and it’s not the only item missing.
When such records are stolen —sometimes for resale on web auction sites— our shared history is lost and our ability to maintain accountability in our government is lessened. Together, with your help, we can return our cultural heritage to its rightful place.
For More Information:
- Help the National Archives Recover Lost & Stolen Documents
- US National Archives Archival Recovery Team on Facebook
via the AOTUS Blog: The Impact of Theft
Wright Brothers Take Flight
On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first successful sustained powered flight of a heavy-than-air vehicle near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Surfman John T. Daniel of the U.S. Life-Saving Service snapped this picture when the Wright Flyer made its historic first flight.
“Original Wright Brothers 1903 Aeroplane (‘Kitty Hawk’) in first flight, December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, NC. Orville Wright at controls. Wilbur Wright at right (First flight was 12 seconds)” By Orville Wright and John T. Daniels, December 17, 1903 (165-WW-713-6); Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs; Record Group 165; National Archives.