The patent file of the wright brothers original “Flying Machine” has returned to the National Archives, after being misplaced 36 years ago. The paperwork filed by Orville and Wilbur Wright on March 23, 1903, includes a diagram of their invention , their petition for patent approval , and their patent oath, affirming that “they verily believe themselves to be the original, joint inventors” of the so-called “Flying Machine.” For years, the files resided in the National Archives in Washington, D.C, the federal repository for historically important U.S. documents. In 1978, the National Archives lent a number of documents (including the Wright Brothers Patent) to the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum, for an aviation exhibit commemorating the 75th anniversary of the first successful flight of a manned, powered, heavier-than-air craft at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Archivist marked the documents as returned in 1980, but a later search failed to locate the patent, and it was added to the official list of missing files. It has been understood now that the Wright Brothers patent had been filed in the wrong box, and that the Archival Recovery Program tracked it down on 22 March, after a targeted search. Other important entries currently on the National Archives “Missing Historical Documents and Items” list include the patent drawing for Eli Whitney’s cotton gin (the machine that heralded Industrial Revolution) , assorted 19th Century presidential pardons, several telegrams written by President Abraham Lincoln, and a diamond-studded dagger that was given to President Harry S. Truman.
In a startling announcement in 2013, Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft named an August 1901 flight by Connecticut aviation pioneer Gustave Whitehead as the first successful powered flight in history, beating the Wright Brothers by more than two years.
However there are as many disbelievers as there are believers of the fact revealed by Jane. It took 112 years for Whitehead to be recognized for his remarkable feat. and who says history cannot be changed? In 1905 the Wright Brothers had the world’s only working airplane, were the only two pilots able to fly it, and had applied for a formidable patent that would cover any plane with three-axis control. Yet within five years they would regularly be surpassed by competitors at home and abroad, and before what was remembered as the Golden Age of Aviation arrived in the 1920s, they would be out of the aircraft business entirely.
The reason for the Brothers downfall was their obsession with secrecy. Even after getting patents, they didn’t want to show design fearing that it might get stolen. Greed of cashing out before going any further led them not to participate in the contemporary competitions; this kept them out of the print media and public spotlight. In 1908, Curtiss won National acclaim after winning a competition but Wright Brothers refused to compete against a man who they believed was stealing their ideas. After a US court upheld Wright’s patent in 1914, they got royalities from everyone. In 1929 The Curtiss and Wright organisations merged to form the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, which exists to this day.