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They didn’t have reality TV around back in 1906, when a couple of bicycle builders in Dayton got a wild hair and decided to build some kind of strange flying machine contraption thingy. Had ABC held auditions for their “America’s Inventor” show way back then, Orville and Wilbur Wright would have squished the guy offering the mechanical cow polisher and walked off with the big paycheck.

The skeptics – and there were many – said the Wrights had plum lost it, and those trips to the sands of Kill Devil Hills would result in nothing but broken bones, grief and lost money. Stick to bikes, that was the advice from many.

But you can’t hold down inventors like the Wrights. And yesterday – May 22 – was the 100th anniversary of the patent they received on that confounded collection of fabric, sticks and wires. United States Patent No. 821,393 for the O. and W. Wright Flying-Machine was without question one of the most important patents to ever be issued in this country:

Without our “flying-machines”, we could not win wars, put out forest fires, fly coast to coast in mere hours, walk on the moon, generate dreams by flying Young Eagles, deliver cancer patients to treatment centers, evacuate disaster victims, or seek out the elusive $100 hamburger.
So congratulations O and W…I’ll bet they had a helluva party up in Heaven last night. Lindbergh led the toast, General Doolittle got the party roused up, Art Scholl entertained with some aerial antics, and Wrong Way Corrigan is still trying to find the buffet table.

So what patents will the next 100 years bring in aviation? Flying cars, hmmm that’s a fine place to start.

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