Clements Library features piece of the Kitty Hawk

June 6, 1995
Contact: umichnews@umich.edu

EDITORS: Photos available on request.

ANN ARBOR—A piece of the machine that allowed man to make the first free, controlled and sustained flight has landed at the University of Michigan’s Clements Library. The one-by-two-inch piece of fabric from the original wing covering of the historic Kitty Hawk was a gift from Jeanne Funkhouser Reeder, a U-M graduate.

Reeder, following the wishes of her father, a graduate of U-M’s Law School and personal attorney to flight pioneer Orville Wright, presented the fabric swatch to the library. Charles Andrew Funkhouser, vice president of the Law School‘s class of 1900, practiced law in Dayton, Ohio, for 63 years. Among his clients was Orville Wright, co-inventor with his brother, Wilbur, of the airplane. Orville Wright also became a friend to the Dayton attorney.

The Kitty Hawk itself was installed in the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., in December 1948, 45 years after the brothers took off from the sands of Kitty Hawk, N.C., in the clumsy and frail 605-pound heavier-than-air craft.

Jeanne Funkhouser Reeder remembers hearing the man her father called ” Orv” visiting in her parents’ home and telling the story of the ” First Flight. ” She also remembers that the inventor was sometimes considered a recluse. But her father, appearing in court for the settlement of Wright’s estate in 1948, remarked, when questioned about Wright’s frame of mind at the drawing of his will, ” He was his usual jovial self!”

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