Kendell Thompson, superintendent of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in the world’s first airplane factory. It’s off West Third Street, in Dayton’s Arlington Heights neighborhood.
It’s amazing to me that these buildings are still here. The Wright Brothers built them in 1910 and 1911 to put what they’d learned about flying to commercial use. Orville Wright sold the business in 1915, after the death of his brother, but airplanes continued to be made here.
In World War I the Dayton Wright Company was formed by Charles Kettering and William Deeds, with Orville Wright as a consultant. They built thousands of planes for the war effort in these buildings and two other locations.
General Motors bought the Dayton Wright Company in 1921 but they didn’t stay in the airplane business. Instead, they made steering wheels here. The business was so successful that GM formed a new division – the Inland Manufacturing Division. This plant grew to cover 54 acres with 1.2 million square feet of manufacturing space. Fortunately, the original Wright buildings were not torn down during this period. They were just surrounded by larger, newer buildings.