The Shroud Of Kitty Hawk


As autographs go, this one could be one of the most historic aviation artifacts around. Scientists at the National Center for Forensic Science will examine a swatch of cloth that may be from the original Wright Flyer and signed by Orville Wright. Jack and Sandy Schweinsberg, of Eustis, Fla., bought the framed piece of cloth from a family member in the 1980s. It’s inscribed: “This is a piece of the original wing covering of the Kitty Hawk plane flown December 17, 1903.” It is signed, “Orville Wright.” The Schweinsbergs have no doubt about its authenticity and there might even be a romantic twist to the story. Jack Schweinberg told the Orlando Sentinel that a distant relative named Lois Haller was given the cloth by Orville when she was a nurse at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and there has been plenty of speculation the relationship was more than cloth deep. “She was single, he was single. Who knows?” said Schweinsberg. Sandy Schweinsberg said the frame has never been opened and she’s hoping there’s a love letter tucked inside. The Schweinsbergs say they wouldn’t mind selling the cloth but would want it displayed in a museum. Meanwhile, bidding opens today on eBay on Wright Flyer artifacts the owner, early flight researcher Jack Carpenter, says are “arguably the rarest of Wright brothers memorabilia.” Carpenter is selling what he says are a piece of spruce that may have busted off the front elevator assembly and a piece of wing fabric. Opening bid is $5,000 and $35,000 is the “buy it now” price.