Accidents Happen


Friday, May 29, was a day like no other. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. I was moving tables and chairs on the fourth floor, setting up for a big event we were hosting in the library when I heard a crash. I turned around and the sound system guys were looking over the balcony. I looked to where the very tall and heavy exhibit panels had just been standing and the top was gone. I said, with a great deal of disbelief, “Did it fall over the balcony?!” One of the guys said, “Yes. It’s on the wire.” I ran to the balcony. What I saw was unbelievable.

As regular readers of this blog probably know, Dunbar Library is home to a 1903 Wright Flyer reproduction that hangs in its atrium. The top panel of our exhibit had fallen off the balcony onto the guide wire that helps secure the Flyer. It was hanging over the wire like a sheet on a line, drying in the summer sun. Although they may not look it, our black exhibit panels are quite heavy. The fabric on the plane was starting to wrinkle and the wing tip was lower than normal. In my mind, all I could see was the flyer crashing to the ground.

Physical Plant was called and came right away. They assessed the situation calmly and got to work. It took about an hour, but they got the panels off the wire thanks to the strength and courage of Chris (Physical Plant Superman) who went up about 20 feet in a lift. After some tense moments, the panels were brought down to the floor with no damage and the plane shifted back into place. Disaster was averted and all was well.

To the student who was sitting in the atrium under the plane when the panels came crashing over the balcony, I hope your nerves have settled down. And I hope you weren’t studying for a test!

And to Chris and all of the crew from Physical Plant who came to our rescue, thank you!

All in a day’s work.

– Dawne Dewey


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Farewell to John Armstrong!

John with his Library STAR Award in Aug. 2014

John with his Library STAR Award in Aug. 2014

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize a staff member in Special Collections and Archives here at Wright State and a member of the Public History graduate adjunct faculty: John Armstrong. Today is John’s last day at WSU after 14 years of service.

John retired from the United States Air Force in 1997, having achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He already possessed an M.S. in Counseling from Creighton University and a B.S. in Education from Ohio University, but decided to add an M.A. in History/Public History from WSU in 2001. John began working as a professional archivist in Special Collections and Archives that same year.

During his years at WSU, John also taught Introduction to Archives and Manuscripts, Advanced Archives, and Archival Records Technology. John has been a tremendous asset to the archives’ team and to Public History at WSU. He and his wife Susan plan to travel more and I am sure John will be out on the golf course as much as possible.

Please join me in thanking John and wishing him well in the years ahead.

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Upcoming Event: Huffman Prairie Aviation History Society Meeting on June 1, 2015

The next meeting of the Huffman Prairie Aviation History Society will take place this coming Monday, June 1, 2015, at 7:00 p.m.

At this month’s meeting, Steve Frey will discuss “Lifting Bodies Research” (view PDF flyer). 

Stephen Frey will give a brief history of the development and goals of the lifting body programs and show and narrate movies of lifting body tow and flight test that he got from the Edwards History Office and from Joe Cotton who flew the B-52 drop plane for many of these flights. Control and stability issues will be discussed and the Bruce Peterson crash that was used as the starting point for the Six Million Dollar Man series will be covered. Lifting Bodies include the M2-F1, M2-F2, M2-F3, HL-10, X-24A, and X-24B.

Stephen will also have a copy of a Flight Test painting signed by Bruce Peterson to Bud Golem that includes several of the lifting bodies and many X-Planes.

The meeting and presentation will take place at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center at 2380 Memorial Road (intersection of State Route 444 and Kauffman Road), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. There is ample free parking, and light refreshments will be provided.

You can view the upcoming schedule of meetings and speakers anytime at :

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