The embodiment of American ingenuity and aviation history, this collection of tools and artifacts were used by the legendary Wright Brothers in the creation of their groundbreaking “Flyers”. Comprising numerous drill bits, shop envelopes and even a pair of engine grease cups, this collection was given to Louis P. Christman (1893-1972), the man responsible for the full blueprints and restoration of the 1905 Wright Flyer III.
These tools are some of the original tools the Wright Brothers used in their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. These tools would have been used in the making of their bicycles, gliders and all of their iconic Flyers created from 1903 to 1911, with the grease cups being utilized in Flyer engines. The drill bits are accompanied by the original envelopes that identify them. Each envelope is marked “Wright Brothers / Dayton, Ohio” and bears writing identifying various bits, along with blue notations that are believed to be in either Orville or Wilber Wright’s hand, and pencil notes believed to be by Christman.
The Wright Flyer III and Restoration:
In the winter of 1904-1905, Orville and Wilber Wright set about creating what would become the Wright Flyer III. Its new and improved engine, stability adjustments and numerous modifications allowed the duo to achieve greater performance than was possible with Flyers I and II. On October 5, 1905, Wilber made a flight of approximately 24 miles in just under 40 minutes, longer than all their other flights in previous models combined. Wishing to sell the world’s first practical aircraft to the United States military and protect their invention, the brothers dismantled the Flyer III in November 1905. By 1908, the pair had won both French and American contracts to sell their airplane, and they reassembled the Flyer III adding seats for a pilot and passenger, as well as a stronger engine and more stable controls. On May 14, 1908, after several successful yet shorter flights, Wilbur crashed the plane and it never left the ground again.
It wasn’t until 1946 that Orville set out to restore the Flyer III. Wright enlisted the help of Edward A. Deeds, the prominent American engineer and inventor who co-founded Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco). Deeds placed his employee Louis P. Christman as the lead on the project. Christman’s experience in machine and airplane design proved essential for the restoration’s success. He thoroughly examined the Flyer, making the first ever detailed blueprints, and worked closely with Orville to fully document and restore the Flyer to its original glory. Needing to be as precise as possible, it was these tools original tools from the Wrights bicycle shop that Christman used to accurately machine the needed parts. After 19 months of intensive work, Christman completed the restoration. Today, the Wright Flyer III is displayed at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio. It is the only fixed-wing airplane to be designated a National Historic Landmark.
This collection was given by Edward Deeds to Christman as a gift and memento for restoring a piece of American history. The collection descended through Christman’s family until recently.
Frame: 35 1/4" wide x 30 1/8" high