Everybody knows that the Wright Brothers' 1903 Flyer, the first aircraft to successfully fly, is one of the proudest exhibits at the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.
What most people DON'T know, however, is that for nearly 40 years, the Smithsonian refused to take it.
The reason why is an epic tale of bruised egos, corporate intrigue and international scandal.
Let's talk about it! ( 🧵 )
The Wrights refused to let the Smithsonian have it!
So it hung in the South Kensington Science Museum, in London, where it inspired a young man named Nevil Norway, who became one of the world's foremost aeronautical engineers in the 1920s and '30s ― but was better known as the novelist, Nevil Shute.
As a result of the quid-pro-quo to finally bring the Flyer home, Alberto Santos-Dumont, a household name and hero in Latin America, is almost unknown in the USA.
What's obscure about it?
Because of the Langley-Curtis shenanigans, the Smithsonian, to get the Flyer, had to essentially agree to a "gag order" relating to other claimants to first flight, and US educational institutions have followed suit.
Hence, Alberto Santos-Dumont, who holds the FAI record (meaning he did it in Paris in front of judges) for first powered controlled heavier-than-air flight is virtually never mentioned in the USA. In Brazil he's a national hero.
"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko