Did you know the world record for flying an airplane to the highest altitude was once set in 1921 by Moraine based pilot Bernard Whelan in a plane built in Moraine? Here is the story.
Trained by the Wright Brothers at a rate of $1 per hour. Whelan toured the country as an exhibition flyer, helping make America aviation conscious. At the outbreak of world War I Whelan became a civilian instructor for the budding Army Air Corps then a part of the Signal Corps. At the end of the war, he joined Howard Rinehart (Photo #1 with Orville Wright) as test pilots at the Dayton-Wright airplane Company on Springboro Pike flying the DeHavilland DH-4 airplane.
The last aircraft designed by Orville Wright was named after him and called the Dayton-Wright OW.1 Aerial Coupe, a four seat touring aircraft. With an unsupercharged engine, light wing loading, a length of 48 feet and an enclosed cabin, pilot Whelan (Photo #2) flew the plane to McCook Field in Dayton, the original site of the Army Air Corps test center. McCook Field was used for the world record attempt rather than Moraine because McCook Field had proper certification by its flight test staff.
Two attempts were made on May 22, 1921. Disappointed over the results of the morning flight, the fire extinguishers, oxygen tanks and other paraphernalia were removed from the plane. On the afternoon test flight Whelan set an altitude record of 19, 710 feet flying the Dayton-Wright OW.1 Aerial Coupe. The Aerial Coupe reached the record altitude after a 2 hour 31 minute flight over Dayton. Three Dayton-Wright Airplane Company mechanics accompanied Whelan on the flight.
Two years later, in 1923, Whelan and Rinehart formed the Rinehart-Whelan Company establishing a pioneering charter service carrying passengers (Photo #4) on cross-country trips, training and photography from their airport called the Moraine Flying Field (Photo #3) . The Moraine Flying Field is located just east of the Northlawn Bridge-Springboro Pike intersection or just north of todays Fuyao Glass America factory. Whelan flew many cross country trips piloting Charles Kettering, Edward Deeds and other company executives on business trips.