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The Wright Dayton Seaplane

Article by
Dave Pecota

Wright-Dayton Seaplane (ca 1930)

If any ready-to-fly toy glider can be considered as being “historically significant”, then perhaps this bi-wing seaplane would qualify.  It was made by the Miami Wood Specialty Co, which is discussed in my article "Let's Go Flying."  The original box art clearly shows the connection this company had with the iconic Wright family.  (Note the Wright-Dayton “logo” imprinted on the glider itself.)

I obtained this stunning and unusual airplane from a Maryland family whose father (Jim) was the original owner.  (Sadly, Jim is no longer with us.)  He was born in 1923 and lived his early years in Bowie, Maryland … where his parents owned a general store beside the tracks of the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad.  Since this glider is a promotional item, one could conclude that Jim probably received it through his parent’s store.  He obviously treasured the seaplane, and kept it in remarkable condition throughout his entire life.  I feel honored that the family entrusted me with becoming the caretaker for Jim’s amazing glider.

The seaplane is 12½ inches long, with the top wing having a span of 14 inches.  It is held together entirely by rubber-bands of various sizes, and was designed to be launched using a stick & rubber-band “catapult”.  As one might expect, only petrified remnants of the original rubber survived.  Bits of rubber were also fused to the glider itself.  The original size, color and position of the rubber-bands were duplicated as closely as possible in assembling the glider, by use of the instructions, the box art and trial & error.

This seaplane had some rather remarkable flying characteristics engineered into its design.  According to the instructions, if the tail is properly affixed into the metal fitting and secured with the correct sequence of twists & loops of the rubber-bands, the glider will fly straight and level after launching.  Then, as the airspeed slows and air pressure is reduced on the tail surface, the rear portion of horizontal stabilizer will angle up.  This will cause the glider to “rise or describe a loop”.  What a spectacular sight that must be!  But if the “Wright” name is on the glider … I believe it.