On May 10, The Museum of Flight
opens the "Treasures from the Vault" series of exhibitions with a rare display of two priceless documents from the beginnings of both aviation and the exploration of space.
The inaugural display includes the original contract between Wilbur and Orville Wright and their creation, the Wright Company in 1909, and the 1969 Apollo 11 Command Service Module Maneuver Card, which has Neil Armstrong's and Buzz Aldrin's most extensive flight notes from mankind's first journey to the Moon.
The artifacts are part of the Museum's permanent collection, but rarely shown because of their value and fragility. They will be on display from May 10 through May 31.
In the Wright's document, the brothers agreed to transfer and assign to the Wright Company two U.S. patents that describe their successful flying machine.
"For all intents and purposes," says The Museum of Flight Curator, Dan Hagedorn, "it is the birth certificate of the first practical aircraft manufacturing firm in the world. For an aviation historian, this is the Magna Carta, Rosetta Stone and Constitution incarnate, and I get all goose bumps when I see it — every time."
Hagedorn continues, "I like to tell visitors that history is really nothing more than an endless series of human choices and consequences. In the case of aviation and aerospace history, those choices commenced, for practical purposes, with that 1909 agreement and were punctuated with a resounding exclamation point in 1969 when Neil Armstrong took that step off the ladder onto the surface of the moon."