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200 Pounds of Silk

It wasn't the most dramatic flight of 1910, but it left an important legacy. Phil Parmelee, a pilot with the Wright exhibition team, took off from Dayton, Ohio, with 200 pounds of silk loaded into his Wright B Flyer, to be delivered to a merchant in Columbus. Dry goods salesman Max Morehouse paid t...

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Wright "B" Flyer Inc. volunteer pilots Rich Stepler and Don Stroud over Ft. Sam Houston's MacArthur Parade Ground last March. (USAF/ Lance Cheung)


It wasn't the most dramatic flight of 1910, but it left an important legacy. Phil Parmelee, a pilot with the Wright exhibition team, took off from Dayton, Ohio, with 200 pounds of silk loaded into his Wright B Flyer, to be delivered to a merchant in Columbus. Dry goods salesman Max Morehouse paid the Wrights $5,000 for the flight, equivalent to more than $120,000 today—and so was born the air cargo industry.

At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 2, in commemoration of the 2010 flight, a replica of the Wright B Flyer will take off from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, circle the Huffman Prairie Flying Field from which Parmelee's flight originated, and head for Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus. Instead of silk, the replica Flyer will carry a piece of ceramic composite cloth and a micro-UAV developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Members of the Wright and Parmelee families will be on hand at Huffman Prairie for the flyover, and the public can follow the commemorative flight on Twitter (hard to imagine Wilbur and Orville using that word).

Watch aerial footage of the real Phil Parmelee, from a 1912 Mack Sennnett comedy:

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