Wright Brothers at Fort Myer – August 2, 1909

On August 2, 1909, years of work and effort paid off for the Wright Brothers at Fort Myer. The U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1907 offered to purchase an airplane that met speed, duration and passenger requirements. In 1908, Orville Wright brought their aircraft to Fort Myer and during testing, met with disastrous consequences. A crash resulted in Orville Wright being severely injured and Lt. James Selfridge killed. Both Wrights returned in 1909 to complete testing. They spent June and July conducting tests, flying around Arlington and using the parade field (part of present-day Summerall Field) as their launching and landing strip. At the end of July 1909, the requirements were met and surpassed. The Signal Corps offered a contract to the Wright Brothers for $30,000 on August 2, 1909, and changed the name of the “Wright Military Flyer” to “Signal Corps No. 1.”

While not Old Guard history, it is associated with Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and Summerall Field, the site of many Old Guard missions since 1948. Today, the original Wright Military Flyer is displayed at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.

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