26 May, 2007

No Flight Without A Sewing Machine

The Wright Brothers could not have made that maiden voyage from Kitty Hawk, NC without a sewing machine! No, they didn't take it with them! They borrowed one, from Mrs. Tate, the postmistress in Kitty Hawk at the time. They were staying with the Tates when they built their first experimental glider in 1900. The brothers Wright, from Dayton Ohio, had established communication, by mail, regarding weather conditions in this remote North Carolina coastal village and thus became acquainted with the North Carolina couple. It was in the Tate's yard that the first glider was assembled in 1900. Concerning this Orville Wright wrote the following to Mr. Tate on 30 November, 1927; as they prepared an anniversary statement to be published years later:

"All of the parts were built in Dayton and shipped to Kitty Hawk, excepting four spars, which were made and shipped in from Norfolk. The ribs, struts, hinges, and end bows were all built complete at our shop in Dayton. The wing coverings were also cut and sewed in Dayton, but on account of Wilbur's inability to get 20-foot spars at Norfolk, a change was necessary in the coverings."

These changes were made using Mrs. Tate's sewing machine, pictured here. My husband thinks we may be the only people who have visited the Wright Brothers Memorial and museum and came away with only a photo of a sewing machine! Maybe we are. But the way I look at it, isn't that the most important part of this story? Seriously, where would we be today without it?
Long live the sewing machine!
Life is Good!

8 comments:

Quilting Journey said...

I absolutely love this story! I mean, without wing coverings, the plane would never have even gotten off of the ground! And to think, Mrs. Tate was this important and most of us have never even heard of her! She is the Betsy Ross of her time! Love the machine...great photo and story!

Libby said...

A great story. We visited many years ago, but I was not a quilter then and don't remember that part *darn it*

Tanya said...

That is fascinating! What a dedicated quilter/sewer you are to focus in on wonderful morsel of sewing history! I'm going to keep my eyes out for more proof of sewing in the world around me! Thank you. Great post!!!!

Shelina said...

This is a great story. I wouldn't have thought of a sewing machine being used to build a plane.

meggie said...

Great post!
Belated congratulations on your wedding anniversary!
You are correct Mrs G. Life truly is good!!!

anne bebbington said...

Yeah.... so what else would you have bothered to take a photo of? :o)

atet said...

Great story -- and wonderful picture. Somehow, I don't think it's odd at all that this is what you took a picture of!

Marcie said...

Oh the stories those old machines could tell--like this one! I need to go down there and see it for myself!