US Army Buys the Future of Aviation

Historic Flights Originated on Fort Myer

Wright Flyer over Fort Myer
Wright Flyer over Fort Myer
On 02 August 1909 another military aviation milestone was reached. It was when the US Army Signal Corps secured the Wright Flyer from the Wright Brothers. For the sum of $30,000.00 of which $5,000.00 was a bonus for exceeding the requirements of speed of flight,  - They flew from the Fort Myer to Alexandria Virginia and back at the speed of 42.5 mph. It marked the Future of Aviation as the United States was now  the first country in the world to own an aircraft. The saga began in September 1908 when the first military flights began on Fort Myer - circling the drill field with Arlington National Cemetery as the backdrop to history being made on this US Army Post. Orville Wright had appeared with his Wright Flyer prepared to answer the US Army Signal Corps' request for a heavier than air flying machine. He successfully demonstrated the capability of the Wright Flyer.  Despite the crash caused by a shattered propeller that dropped Orville and LT Thomas Selfridge from the sky at about one hundred feet.  Orville suffered broken bones in his leg and broken ribs.  Selfridge fared worse with a concussion that later resulted in him passing.  He then became the first military aviation fatality.   Section 3 in Arlington National Cemetery is where he is at rest.

Wright Brothers Return in 1909

When the US Army agreed to a return appearance, the Wright brothers, both Orville and WIlbur returned in June 1909 with a brand newly built airplane designated the "Military Flyer".  It was then flown several times for both duration of flight and speed.  After the second speed test flight which included Orville flying from Fort Myer to Alexandria Virginia and return,  the US Army was convinced of the value of what the Wright brothers produced. The US Army bought the future of aviation with the acceptance of the Military Flyer.  Later in August, after a balloon reconnaissance by Lt Frank Lahm,  land in College Park, Maryland was leased to become the first US Army Signal Corps Airport.   The airport continues until today thus holding the distinction of the oldest airport in the world.   An aviation museum sits alongside the runway where the Wright brothers trained the first US Army pilots.   Later other aviation companies would get there start among those acres.

OVER 200 Historical Images

"images of America - Fort Myer"  chronicles the first one hundred years of this historic US Army Post from when it was built in the 1860s and known then as Fort Whipple until the 1960s when among the 3d Infantry regiment appeared the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.   An autographed by the author copy of the book is avail able at BUY THE BOOK.

Post Author: John Michael

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