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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Manny Gorin Wright Brothers Glass Plate Negatives Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2004-09-07
The Manny Gorin Wright Brothers Glass Plate Negatives Collection consists of 15 glass plate negatives of the Wright Brothers and their Model A aircraft in France, circa 1908-1909.

Four images depict the Model A in flight. Five images show the aircraft on the ground with groups of people, primarily men, standing around it and inspecting it. One image shows the plane being wheeled across a dirt road toward a barn-like structure, likely Wilbur's temporary hangar at the Hunaudières racecourse. One image does not include the aircraft at all but shows a group of men near the Wrights' derrick-like catapult that they used to launch their aircraft; four additional images show the plane near this structure, perhaps while preparing for take-off, with some people around. The catapult is seen in the distance in one of the views of the plane in flight. The launch rail is also clearly visible in two of the images.

While people are pictured in most of the images, none are identified. Wilbur Wright is presumably piloting the aircraft in all the views of it in flight. It is unknown if Orville is depicted in any of the images. Some women are present and may possibly include Katharine Wright. No large groups of spectators or viewing stands are seen in the images.

The original photographer of the images is unknown. The images may have been taken either at Le Mans or Pau, France. The images were evidently not all taken at the same event but over the course of multiple exhibition flights as the background and weather conditions vary between the images. Snow is seen on the ground in some images. Some of the glass plates have suffered damage to their emulsion layers, which affects the images.


  • 1908-1909

Conditions Governing Access

The items in this collection are very fragile and may not be handled by researchers. Printed copies of the images and digitized versions are available for use. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


0.4 Cubic Feet (1 letter-size document box, 1 file folder)

Biographical Note: The Wright Brothers

Orville Wright (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and his brother Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912) are credited with being the first to successfully invent, build and fly an airplane. Their first successful flight in a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft took place on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville and Wilbur were two of seven children born to Milton Wright (1828–1917), a bishop, and Susan Catherine Koerner (1831–1889). They attended high school though neither received a diploma. In 1889 they started a printing press and published a newspaper. Later they cashed in on the bicycle craze and opened a repair and sales shop. Increasingly interested in flight, they began experimentation by 1899. The experimented first with gliders before attempting powered flight. Aviation pioneer Octave Chanute had suggested to them to do their test flights along the mid-Atlantic coast for its breezes and soft sandy landing surfaces, so they decided on Kitty Hawk, North Carolina which also gave them privacy from reporters. After many experiments with gliders, the brothers built their first powered aircraft, the Wright Flyer, in 1903. After having a custom designed propeller made, they began flight attempts on December 14, 1903. After repairs and modifications to their Flyer, they made their successful flight attempts on December 17, 1903, with two flights each from level ground into a freezing headwind. Orville's first flight was at 10:35 am, flew 120 feet in 12 seconds at a speed of only 6.8 miles per hour at an altitude of about 10 feet above ground. In 1904 they set up an airfield at Huffman Prairie, near Dayton to continue to experiment closer to home. They continued to modify their Flyers and make flying attempts, but their accomplishments were met with skepticism by the press. They spent 1906 and 1907 unsuccessfully trying to get contracts from the U.S. and European governments. More demonstration flights, both in the U.S. and Europe, brought them more attention, business success and fame. In 1906 they had been awarded patent number 821393 for "new and useful Improvements in Flying Machines". However they had continuing legal battles with other aviators, namely Glenn Curtiss, who refused to pay licensing fees. They incorporated their Wright Company on November 22, 1909. They hired exhibition pilots in 1910 to drum up business for aircraft sales. That year their company also made the first commercial cargo flight by flying fabric Dayton to Columbus, Ohio, for the Morehouse-Martens Department Store. The Wright Brothers Flying School at Huffman Prairie trained over 100 pilots. Wilbur died of typhoid fever in 1912. Orville continued to run their business, with assistance from their sister Katharine, until 1915 when he sold it. He made his last flight as a pilot in 1918, serving on boards and committees in his retirement. Orville died in 1948.
Historical Note: The Wright Brothers in Europe In 1908, Wilbur Wright traveled to France to conduct demonstration flights of the Wright Brothers' aircraft. The aircraft that he had brought with him, a Wright Model A, had been damaged during shipping and customs inspections, so Wilbur had to spend two months repairing it before he could fly it. He chose Hunaudières racecourse at Le Mans, southwest of Paris, as the demonstration site, making his first flight there on August 8, 1908. This was the first public flight the Wright brothers had made. This public demonstration quashed any skepticism about their invention. Crowds were particularly impressed with the control that Wilbur had over the flight.

In January 1909 Wilbur moved his demonstrations to Pau, in the south of France, where the weather was warmer. Between 1908 and 1909 Wilbur made more than 100 flights and crowds of 100,000 were coming to watch the demonstrations. Orville and their sister Katharine joined Wilbur in Pau. After the series of exhibitions in France, Wilbur continued on to Italy where he trained Italian military pilots. In June 1909, the Wrights returned to Dayton where a 2-day event celebrated their accomplishments. Orville conducted flight trials for a U.S. Army contract in July 1909 and then he and Katharine traveled to Germany for more flight demonstrations and sales negotiations.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.


Guide to the Manny Gorin Wright Brothers Glass Plate Negatives Collection
Completed - Level 2
N. Davis
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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