The Dayton Wright Airplane Company

Written by Bill Bowman

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The Wright Company’s first manufacturing plant was located in part of the Speedwell Motor Car Company factory in Dayton, Ohio. The Wright Company rented manufacturing space at Speedwell from shortly after the Wright Company was formed (1909) until the company’s new factory was completed (1910). Established in 1907, Speedwell manufactured automobiles in Dayton for seven years. While at this location, the Wright brothers made many trips out to Huffman Prairie near Dayton to flight test their planes. When offered a ride in one of the Speedwell automobiles, the Wrights always refused, preferring to travel on the traction car instead, because they thought automobiles were too dangerous.

The Wright Company started to manufacture the Wright Model B in the Speedwell plant, with the first completed June 29, 1910. The Model B was the first mass produced airplane ever built. During this period, the engines were manufactured in the Wrights bicycle shop, and then trucked to the Speedwell plant, where they were installed in the airplanes.

The first airplane companies formed by the Wrights were a French company (1908) and the Germany Wright Company (1909). Neither of these faired well, apparently due to mismanagement. The British Wright Company, Ltd. was formed after Wilbur’s death, in 1913, with Orville as Chairman of the Board. The Wrights American company, The Dayton Wright Airplane Company (also referred to as The Wright Company or Wright and Company) was incorporated in 1909, with Wilbur Wright as president; and Orville Wright and Andrew Freedman as vice presidents. The Wrights sold all of their American patent rights to the company for $100,000 in cash, forty percent of the company stock, and a ten percent royalty on the selling price of every airplane sold. The Wright Company manufactured airplanes, operated flying schools, managed a team of exhibition flyers, and licensed other companies to construct airplanes that incorporated Wright patents.

Upon the formation of The Dayton Wright Company, the company agreed to pay the expenses of prosecuting the Wright brothers patent infringement suits. Over the years, the Wrights were involved in about twenty actions. The Wrights eventually won all of their patent infringement suits. Today, every airplane that flies does so because of the discoveries and devices made by Wilbur and Orville Wright.

During World War I, The Dayton Wright Airplane Company produced planes for the United States war effort.

In 1919, General Motors purchased Dayton Wright Airplane Company for 100,000 shares of General Motors stock. General Motors did not see any future profitability in producing airplanes after the war was over. They decided to close Dayton Wright Airplane Company in 1923 and sold specific rights to Consolidated Aircraft Company.


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