Historic Wright Brothers Factory Damaged in Fire

This row of buildings includes, left to right, the original two Wright Company factory buildings that were added by the Inland Division of General motors.
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

The historic Wright brothers’ airplane factory complex in Dayton, Ohio, was damaged in an early Sunday morning fire. The local fire department crews were on the scene by 2:30 a.m. and found the flames had swept through the complex. The Dayton Daily News reported that Crews battled the flames into the following afternoon. Black smoke continued to stream from a collection of multiple hangar buildings, including historic Wright Brothers airplane factory hangars, and flames could be seen on the backside of the hangars.

Here is the Dayton Daily News article about the event.

The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) has been working with the National Park Service, the city of Dayton to preserve the factory buildings and redevelop the site for historical and commercial uses. Wilbur and Orville Wright invented, developed, and commercialized the airplane in Dayton. They formed the Wright Company in 1909 and built its first factory building in 1910 about two miles west of their bicycle shop on West Third Street. They added the second building in 1911. Wilbur died in 1912 and Orville sold the company in 1915. General Motors Corp. later transformed it into the Inland division, adding buildings and eventually employing thousands of auto workers. The buildings remained in active use as an Inland, Delco, and finally Delphi plant. Delphi, in bankruptcy, closed the plant in 2008 and transferred the property to a holding company. Delphi Holdings sold it to HAR in 2012.

“We are deeply saddened by the fire that damaged our historic Wright Company airplane factory, the first purpose-built buildings for the aviation industry. We are grateful to the fire department for their quick and brave response, and we are working to assess the extent of the damage and the impact on our heritage.” -Mackensie Wittmer, Executive Director

The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is a private, not-for-profit corporation designated by Congress as the management entity of the National Aviation Heritage Area. NAHA’s vision is for the Heritage Area to be the recognized center of aviation heritage tourism and aerospace innovation, sustaining the legacy of the Wright Brothers. The National Aviation Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in a program administered by the National Park Service. It encompasses eight Ohio counties—Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby and Auglaize. Visit www.aviationheritagearea.org to learn more about NAHA.


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