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The Wright Stuff: Part of GE Aviation's Past Unveiled

January 22, 2019 | by Sharnoosh Shafie
GE Aviation is well known for its profound history of powering the world’s greatest aircraft with the famed turbosupercharger to aviation’s most influential commercial and military jet engines.

By 1941, the Wright Brothers’ original airplane company in Dayton, Ohio, through a series of acquisitions and mergers, evolved into Curtiss-Wright Corporation with a Wright Aeronautical engine division operating a massive factory in the northern Cincinnati suburbs.

During that time, the factory produced the Wright Cyclone piston engines that powered the B-17, B-25, and B-29 bombers that flew over Germany and Japan during World War II. With 320 acres of land and 35 acres of factory floor space, Wright Aeronautical became one of the largest and most sophisticated facilities during the war.

The factory operated 24/7 at peak production, employing more than 30,000 people and producing more than 3,000 radial engines a month. It ceased operations on August 17, 1945 with the end of World War II, and in 1948, General Electric began leasing space in the empty buildings to establish a military jet engine operation. A large portion of the complex was later incorporated into the Evendale suburb and it ultimately became the world headquarters of jet engine maker GE Aviation.

About 15 years ago, while tearing down Building 701, workers came across a large Wright Aeronautical tiled mural, which originally adorned the floor of the reception lobby. This historic piece of art, made of terrazzo, was cut out from the floor, wrapped up and stored away in a safe place.

Above: The Wright Aeronautical lobby. The tiled terrazzo mural can be seen inlaid into the floor. Top: The restored mural, mounted and on display after 15-years in storage.

As part of the Evendale revitalization, Tim Meyers, Evendale Facility Operations Leader, and Jennifer Seeling, Evendale Office Environments Business Leader, decided to have the mural remounted to showcase this long-lost piece of the past.

“We have been working to restore this beautiful piece of historic art by stripping it all the way down, filling in the cracks, recoloring it and putting a coating on it to preserve it and bring it back to life,” said Meyers.

The Evendale is full of aviation DNA. Major aviation innovators such as Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Neil Armstrong and John Glenn have all walked across the grounds.

“We always thought we were going to put the mural someplace to showcase this piece of history that would keep us grounded to where the original site came from. This piece of floor encompasses the very journey that GE Aviation has been on, and we want to protect that,” Meyers said.

The Wright Aeronautical mural has gone through months of restoration and is now installed outside of Building 100.

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GE Aerospace is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, as well as integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft.