The Wright Flyer (often retrospectively referred to as Flyer I or 1903 Flyer) was the first powered aircraft designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903 near the Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S.
The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as "...the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard." The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale described the 1903 flight during the 100th anniversary in 2003 as "the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight."
The Wright Brothers returned home to Dayton for Christmas after the flights of the Flyer. While they had abandoned their other gliders, they realized the historical significance of the Flyer. They crated it and shipped it back to Dayton, where it stayed in storage for 9 years. It was inundated in the Great Dayton Flood in March 1913.
In 1910 the Wrights first made attempts to exhibit the Flyer in the Smithsonian Institution but talks fell through with the ensuing lawsuits against Glenn Curtiss and the Flyer may have been needed as repeated evidence in court cases. In 1916 as the patent fights were ending, Orville brought the Flyer out of storage and prepared it for display at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Wilbur had died in 1912.) He replaced parts of the wing covering, the props, and the engine's crankcase, crankshaft, and flywheel. The crankcase, crankshaft and flywheel of the original engine had been sent to the Aero Club of America in New York for an exhibit in 1906 and were never returned to the Wrights. The replacement crankcase, crankshaft and flywheel came from the guinea pig engine Charlie Taylor had built in 1904 and used for testing in the bicycle shop.