Last of Their Kind

Airplanes without equal at the National Air and Space Museum

(Library of Congress)

Wright 1909 Military Flyer

(Eric Long)

First demonstration flight: September 3, 1908; crashed September 17. A replacement aircraft completed Army tests the following June. The U.S. Signal Corps was the first customer for the descendant of the 1903 Wright Flyer. The crash killed Army observer Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge—the first airplane fatality—and badly injured Orville Wright. Because the first Military Flyer was destroyed in the crash, it was not repaired to airworthiness before it was transferred from the War Department in September 1911. Of the three Wright aircraft in the NASM collection (1903 Flyer, 1909 Military Flyer, 1911 EX Vin Fiz), it has the most original parts. First prototype.

P-V Engineering Forum XHRP-X (not shown)
Frank Piasecki’s XHRP-X was the first successful tandem helicopter. Built for the Coast Guard, the XHRP could carry eight passengers and two crew members, an unprecedented load for a rotary-wing craft. The asymmetric fuselage, with the aft rotor higher than the forward, ensured that the two rotors did not touch. Inevitably, the design and each descendant, like the Air Force H-21, became known as the Flying Banana. First flight: March 7, 1945. Transferred from the U.S. Navy Bureau of Weapons in 1960. First prototype; in storage.


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