Local author launches new Wright brothers book

By Nathan Pilling npilling@civitasmedia.com

July 5, 2014

BEAVERCREEK — The launch of Tim Gaffney’s new book “The Dayton Flight Factory” is providing an opportunity for Gaffney and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) to connect with the ancestors of those who worked in the Wright Company plane factory in Dayton.

Gaffney, a Miamisburg resident, gave a presentation about his book and an overview of the Wright brothers’ history at Books & Company at The Greene in Beavercreek on Wednesday.

“What I wanted to do with this book is write a story about the Wright Brothers but with a very strong focus on their lives and their work in Dayton,” Gaffney said. “So many people around the country know of the Wright brothers. They know they invented the airplane, but they think they lived in North Carolina. Most people don’t even realize that they lived in Dayton and invited the airplane here. And even here in Dayton people don’t realize that not only did they invent the airplane, but they also invented the aviation industry.”

The aviation industry that the Wrights invented began in the Wright Company factory buildings in Dayton. It is thought that about 80 people worked at the factory at its peak, but research has only turned up about 20 names. Because the company left behind no employee rosters, little is known about those who once worked in the historic buildings.

But with the buzz Gaffney is generating through the launch of his new book, that might change. He and NAHA are hoping that the ancestors of those who once worked at the Wright factory will come forward to share the stories, documents and artifacts of those who worked in those historic buildings. Any information gathered will go into a new collection at Wright State University.

The information preserved in this collection will then be passed along to the National Park Service as material for exhibits when the factory buildings potentially become a national park.

While the factory is eligible to become a national park unit, the National Park Service doesn’t own or control the property. NAHA is working to preserve the site for use in a national park and is currently looking to raise funds to acquire the site to eventually pass along to the park service. Gaffney said they would like to see the national park open to the public in some limited degree by 2016.