October 4, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
A lookalike Wright B Flyer flew from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 2 to re-enact the world’s first cargo flight. It was operated by Wright B Flyer Inc. of Dayton, a company that gives exhibitions.
Silk cloth was carried on the original flight on Nov. 7, 1910. This time tokens of the future were delivered—a piece of carbon fiber cloth and models of unmanned aerial vehicles that will be developed in Dayton.
The aircraft flew from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton to Rickenbacker International Airport near Columbus. Wright B Flyer volunteer pilots Mitch Cary and Richard Stepler, both of the Dayton area, flew the airplane. The original flight was made by Wright Company pilot Phil Parmelee and took off from Huffman Prairie (now a part of Wright-Patterson) to a driving park in Columbus. The original cargo was 200 pounds of silk delivered to a dry goods store. Today’s flight circled over Huffman Prairie and made a refueling stop at Madison County Airport near London, Ohio, before continuing to Rickenbacker and a private reception sponsored by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority and Lane Aviation.
In the autumn of 1910, Max Morehouse, an executive of the Morehouse-Martens Company (which operated the Home Dry Goods Store) in Columbus, approached the Wright Company with an idea to gain publicity for his store and the small Dayton airplane manufacturer. Morehouse followed with interest a Curtiss exhibition flight from Sandusky to Cleveland, a 60-mile jaunt along Lake Erie, and worked with Roy Knabenshue, the manager of the Wright Company’s Exhibition Department, to fly 10 bolts of silk (provided by his company) from the Wright Company’s testing grounds at Huffman Prairie Flying Field to Columbus. Patches of the silk were sold throughout the nation.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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