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 Miami Wood

Article by
Dave Pecota

Miami Wood Specialty Company

By the 1920’s, the Wright Brothers were known world-wide for their aeronautical achievements.  However, the Wrights had business interests that ranged from bicycles to printing … aircraft manufacturing to toy design.  (It should be remembered that it was a small, helicopter-like toy that first inspired the Wrights to pursue the challenge of manned flight.)

In 1925, Orville designed and patented a toy called “Flips & Flops”.  A local business in Dayton (Ohio) called the Miami Wood Specialty Company, manufactured and sold the toy on behalf of the Wrights.  The venture was highly successful.  Several members of the Wright family subsequently invested in the company, and Orville’s brother Lorin became its president.

Shortly after, Orville designed and built a special printing press that enabled Miami Wood to print decorations and advertising on a series of wooden toy aircraft that the company designed and sold through the 1930’s.  This printing press survives today, and is on display at the Wright Museum in Dayton.


“Flips & Flops” toy (ca 1920’s) – This unusual clown catapult toy was designed and patented (#1523989 – Jan 1925) by Orville Wright.  It was produced and sold by Miami Wood and was a very popular item for the company.  (Mine actually works great!)


“Wright Flyer” catapult glider (ca 1930’s) – Shown here are two examples of Miami Wood’s stunning glider, both of which were produced as promotional items.  One can surmise that the Wrights had a hand in the design of this glider, if they allowed it to carry the name of their historic airplane.  Note the angle-adjustable tail assembly.  You could set up your Flyer for long glides OR loops, based on the stabilizer angle you chose.  One glider features graphics to advertise General Electric’s brand of “mazda” light bulbs (nothing to do with the automobile maker).  The other glider features graphics that promote a petroleum-based product of the Canfield Oil Co of Cleveland (OH) called Canzol. 


“Autogiro” toy (ca 1930’s) – During the 1930’s, autogiros were popularized by such pilots as Amelia Earhart.  Miami Wood developed a helicopter-like toy, and called it an autogiro to take advantage of the public’s fleeting fascination with these unusual aircraft.  Prior to flying these toys, you folded the wings against the fuselage … then you launched it into the air with a catapult stick.  Once the autogiro reached its maximum height, the wings (rotors?) popped open … and it would gently “auto-rotate” (spin) to the ground.  Both of my examples are promotional items.

Wright-Dayton “Seaplane” (ca 1930’s) – You can see the entire story of this extraordinary glider by selecting its special tab at the “wood glider” main menu.