Wright Flyer Donated to the Smithsonian

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Upon the death of Orville Wright on January 30, 1948, the United States National Museum at the Smithsonian Institution learns that Orville Wright had instructed that the original Wright Flyer, the first aircraft capable of flight carrying a man under its own power, which first flew on 17 December 1903, should be donated to the National Museum. This donation ends a long dispute between the Wright Brothers and the Smithsonian over the first machine capable of flight.


  • Wright, Orville 1871-1948
  • Wright, Wilbur 1867-1912
  • United States National Museum
  • National Air and Space Museum


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • For information on the dispute between the Smithsonian and the Wright Brothers that delayed donation of the aircraft to the National Museum, see Tom Crouch, "Capable of Flight: The Feud between the Wright Brothers and the Smithsonian," Invention and Technology 2 (Spring 1987): 34-46.
  • Oehser, Paul H. The Smithsonian Institution. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970, p. 57.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1949. Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, p. 3.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


January 30, 1948


  • Airplanes
  • Antiquities
  • Controversies
  • Aeronautics
  • Inventions
  • Gifts
  • Famous Artifacts
  • National Collections
  • Wright Flyer (Airplane)

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