Burdette Wright, San Antonio Evening Star obituary, June 5, 1961
Burdette Wright was born in New Albany, IN. He graduated Purdue University in 1915 with a bechelor of science degree in electrical engineering, received a master's degree from Purdue in 1925. When stationed at Washington, DC in the early 1920s he earned a law degree from George Washington University.
He made his mark in American aviation in many ways. He was a military aviator who advocated and pressed, along with Billy Mitchell, the cause of military aviation. He was an aviation manufacturer's executive,
an organizer of the first cross-country air routes, and he introduced such air safety and navigational features as weather maps and radio stations.
He was a founder, former and contributor to fundamental 20th century avation infrastructure.
His long career in aviation began in WWI, when he transferred from the Coast Artillery to the Army Air Corps. He served as an observer in France. After the war he took flight training at Bolling Field, Washington, DC and then became an aide to General Billy Mitchell, who was assistant chief of the Air Corps. He served with him until 1922. In the early 1920s, Wright was assigned liaison responsibility for the First World Flight. He planned the logistics and itinerary for the flight across the US to Seattle, WA. The World Flight Douglas Cruisers did land at Tucson, but they did so in 1924, before the Register was available for them to sign. There are photographs of the aircraft and their pilots on the ground at Tucson, however, here.
He then was assigned to set up cross-country air routes. The Army mail planes pioneered modern air service along these routes (see Benjamin Foulois). After completing this assignment in 1925 he was placed in charge of flight training at Kelly Field in Texas, then became chief of the information division at Air Corps headquarters there. Now comes Wright to Tucson.
Burdette Wright landed at the Airfield and signed the Register twice, the first time as passenger and the second time as pilot in command. He landed as a passenger first, on Tuesday, 1/12/1926. His pilot was Major Carlyle H. Wash who carried Wright plus five additional passengers in the Douglas C-1 Transport, 25-433. Based at San Antonio, TX Kelly Field, they were westbound from El Paso, TX to San Diego, CA.
He didn't remain in San Diego for long. He landed again at Tucson Saturday January 16, 1926 at 1:10PM. He was flying the same airplane, with one passenger, a Private McDowell. They were eastbound from Rockwell Field, San Diego, CA to Kelly Field, San Antonio, TX. The purpose for their flight was not indicated in the Register.
Below, the C-1 type flown by Wright and McDowell. This image is from the book cited in the left sidebar.
Douglas C-1 Transport, ca. 1929
Douglas C-1 Three-View Silhouette
At left is a three-view silhouette of the C-1 Transport. This diagram was used as a device for training US Army Air Corp personnel how to identify the various aircraft in the military fleet of the time. It and many other silhouette figures are included in the military aircraft book cited in the left sidebar.
While acting as Mitchell's aide, Wright married in Washington, DC in 1919 to Elizabeth Campbell. They soon gave birth to what Wright called a "recruit," whom he hoped would "solo" soon.
Wright resigned from the Army in 1928 with the rank of Captain. He practiced law for two years and joined the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company as their Washington, DC representative. He became president of the firm in 1933. Around this time the firm merged with Wright Aircraft & Co., and he became vice president in charge of manufacturing. He remained with Curtiss-Wright until 1950, remaining with the company through WWII at the request of the War Department. He won the Certificate of Merit for the numbers of war planes produced while he was in charge. This link provides a brief history of Curtiss-Wright in the aftermath of WWII.
After his retirement in 1950, Wright served active as a member of the board of Marine Midland Trust Co. in New York.
Burdette Wright died Saturday June 3, 1961 at Leesburg, VA. He was survived by wife Elizabeth, Burdette, Jr., another son Philip and daughter Elizabeth. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
UPLOADED: 01/28/08 REVISED: 06/22/12