By Bill Stansbeary
When Orville Wright prepared the 1903 Wright Flyer for public exhibition in 1928, he replaced the original fabric because it had been damaged by submersion in flood waters in 1913. He covered the flying surfaces with new fabric of identical material.
After Wright’s death in 1948, his estate handlers found some of the original 1903 Wright Flyer wing covering carefully preserved and labeled in his laboratory at 15 North Broadway in Dayton, Ohio.
On Dec. 8, 2005, Amanda Wright, great grandniece of Orville and Wilbur Wright, brought a small piece of that fabric from a section that covered the lower left wing of the Wright Flyer to present to Centennial Airport. Wright presented this special gift to Robert Olislagers, airport director, in the Wright Room at the control tower of APA, operated by the Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Amanda Wright pointed out how rare this original fabric is. Only a few select individuals, including Neil Armstrong, John Glenn and Elrey Jeppesen, have received a small section. She also commented on the persistence of Robert Olislagers, saying he shared that characteristic with Orville and Wilbur Wright.