DAYTON, Ohio -- Maneuvering wheels on display near the Wright 1909 Military Flyer in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Maneuvering wheels were placed under the 1909 Flyer to permit the aircraft to be moved while on the ground. They were detached prior to flight. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The Wright 1909 Military Flyer became the first military heavier-than-air flying machine. Upon purchase by the Signal Corps for $30,000 on Aug. 2, 1909, the U.S. Army designated the Wright 1909 Military Flyer as Signal Corps Airplane No. 1, and it remained the only Army airplane for nearly two years.
In October 1909, Wilbur Wright used Signal Corps No. 1 to give flight instruction to Lts. Frank P. Lahm and Frederic E. Humphreys. In 1910 Lt. Benjamin D. Foulois taught himself how to fly in Signal Corps No. 1 while stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. By March 1911, after several crashes and repairs, the Army retired Signal Corps No. 1. It is now on exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
This airplane on display is an exacting reproduction constructed by museum personnel in 1955. It is equipped with an engine donated by Orville Wright and chains, sprockets and propellers donated by the heirs of the Wright estate.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Engine: 4-cylinder Wright of 30.6 hp
Maximum speed: 42 mph Maximum endurance: 1 hour Span: 36 ft. 6 in. Length: 28 ft. 11 in. Height: 7 ft. 10 1/2 in. Weight: 740 lbs.