North Carolina Centennial of Flight

Forrest Wysong

Forrest and Paul Wysong, two teenaged brothers from Greensboro, began constructing a twenty-foot glider from Popular Mechanics diagrams in 1910. Forrest was then sixteen and his brother fourteen. Inspired by show pilot Lincoln Beachey, the boys worked on the glider until its completion in November 1911. That month, Forrest took the glider for a test run and quickly crashed. His father, Olmedo C. Wysong, who had been supplying the boys with parts, was very shaken up by the crash. He made Forrest promise not to conduct any more flight experiments.

Forrest defied his father's order and began building a Curtiss biplane in 1912 on the campus of North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now North Carolina State University), where he was a student from 1911-1915. Some of Wysong's friends at the university wanted to get in on the fun, and bought important supplies like the motor and propellers.

biplane

An airplane having two pairs of wings fixed at different levels.

Shortly before Forrest's graduation, he and his friends went to a spot of land (what is now the Meredith College campus) and Forrest got behind the wheel. Although the facts of his first flight are disputed, the Greensboro Record reported the flight as a huge success. The college senior, the newspaper said, took his biplane up two hundred feet and stayed in the air for ten minutes.

When Forrest's father read the news of his son's flight, he was furious. He demanded that Forrest give up his experiments with the biplane. With Forrest removed from the project, fellow students and financiers of the plane took the young aviator to court. Apparently Forrest had promised his sponsoring peers a share of whatever money he made flying his plane in state fairs. Now that Forrest couldn't fly his friends claimed that he owed them money. The plane was taken away from Forrest by order of the court.

After graduating, Forrest worked for Curtiss, the company whose designs first inspired him. Wysong also served in World War I as a navy pilot.