Armstrong's widow donates fabric from original Wright Brothers' Flyer to Purdue

Neil Armstrong’s widow, Carol Armstrong, recently donated two pieces of fabric from the wings of the original 1903 Wright Flyer flown at Kitty Hawk.

The fabric was given to Armstrong to take with him on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Posted: May 30, 2019 10:10 AM
Updated: May 30, 2019 10:29 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Two pieces of fabric from the original Wright Brothers' Flyer have been donated to Purdue University from Neil Armstrong's widow. The fabric was given to Armstrong to take with him on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. 

Carol Armstrong donated the pieces, each measuring 25 inches by 24 inches, from the famous 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk. According to a news release, one of the pieces is now on display at the "Apollo in the Archives: Selections from the Neil A. Armstrong Papers” exhibit at Purdue's Archives and Special Collections. The exhibit runs through Aug. 16.

“To know that these pieces of fabric connect the first human steps on the lunar surface with the first powered, heavier-than-air machine sustained flight is astonishing,” said Tracy Grimm, the Barron Hilton archivist for Flight and Space Exploration and associate head of Archives and Special Collections. “To think that Orville and Wilbur Wright and Neil Armstrong all touched and held this fabric is incredible. It shows that Neil honored the pioneers who came before him, just as we honor his accomplishments.”

More than 450 boxes of Armstrong's manuscripts, personal papers and files are owned by Purdue, thanks to the donations by Neil and Carol Armstrong. The Wright Brothers' Flyer fabric will be added to the Armstrong Papers collection. The papers are accessible by appointment to faculty, students, and scholars conducting scholarly research.

Sammie Morris, professor and head of archives and special collections, said the donation continues to help bring flight and space history to life.

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission this year, we show how Purdue has helped the world advance in transportation and exploration. It is so fitting that the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 coincides with Purdue’s 150th birthday this year, cementing forever the close relationship Purdue has had to flight and space history from its beginnings,” Morris said.

The donation aligns with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration, according to the university. It is a year-long celebration acknowledging the university’s global advancements made in space, earth, exploration and economics.

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