Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Top. Men." The Sunday Happy Ending Story

The missing Wright Brothers patent has been found!


The Kansas City Star has the dismaying story with a happy ending:

A century-old patent file for the Wright brothers’ pioneering airplane was missing for 36 years until a group of researchers tracked it down last month to a storage cave in Lenexa. 


The precious document was supposed to be stored in a “treasure” vault in the National Archives building in Washington, D.C. But it vanished sometime around 1980, and experts had been searching for it ever since.
On March 22, Bob Beebe, an archivist at the National Archives in Kansas City, found the file, one of history’s greatest patent applications, among a 15-foot high stack of records in the limestone storage caves maintained by the Archives in Lenexa.
Researchers from across the country, following the trail of the missing records, had recently reached out to Beebe, believing the famous patent might have been sent here by mistake along with more ordinary patent records. 
After hours of searching in the caves, Beebe, of De Soto, found it. 
He held in his hands a beat-up manila envelope labeled “Wright Brothers’ Patents.” Inside was a folder labeled with the famous names Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright. 
A cover form labeled their invention: “Flying Machine.”
“I can’t believe I found it,” Beebe thought, as he recalled in an interview Saturday night. “It was an exciting moment.”
The patent appears to have arrived in Lenexa through a simple mixup, National Archives and Records Administration Chief Operating Officer William J. Bosanko said last week.
“Unfortunately, with billions of pieces of paper, things sometimes go where they shouldn’t be,” he said.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/business/aviation/article69675387.html#storylink=cpy
The file was taken, with a security detail, from Kansas City to the National Archives HQ in D.C. The patent will be on display in Washington beginning on May 20.

Here is an interesting tidbit:

But he was asked to check one more box, which he did around 7:30 a.m. March 22. He said he lifted the lid, and there, stuffed among the neat patent folders, was a fat manila envelope.
The upper left-hand corner bore the logo “the White House.” And in the center someone had written “Wright Brothers’ Patents.” As he removed one of the folders inside, he spotted a partially obscured number that ended in 393.
“This is what we’re looking for,” he said he thought at the time.
With shaking hands, he emailed Abraham, who contacted Yockelson.
“I was stunned,” Yockelson said. “If I had to pick one [crucial] document . . . that’s missing, this was it . . . It’s the holy grail.”
He said he thinks the file hasn’t been seen by archivists or historians since 1980.
Abraham said he did not know why no one had thought to check the other Wright patent files before. “It was just one of those things,” he said.
As for “the White House” logo, Bosanko said some frugal archivist probably used a recycled envelope.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/business/aviation/article69675387.html#storylink=cpy
While this story has a very happy ending, it certainly reminds me of the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark where the ending wasn't quite as happy.

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