September 16, 2007

Old Unicoi Trail DAR Hears Lost Piece of History

DAR Hiawassee

DAR Regent

At the September 8, 2007, meeting of the Old Unicoi Trail Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Hiawassee, Georgia, a piece of history that has never made it to the history books was related. It was the account of Micajah Clark Dyer’s invention, construction and flight of an “Apparatus for Navigating the Air” long before anyone else succeeded in getting a guided craft airborne.

Micajah Clark Dyer, a poor mountain farmer with limited formal education and access to only primitive tools, invented his flying machine in the Choestoe District of Union County, Georgia. The story of his invention was handed down orally to each generation of the family, and the first written account of it was by Dr. Watson B. Dyer in the Dyer Family History, privately published in 1967 and 1980. He reported interviews with people who were eye witnesses to several flights by Clark Dyer in his plane, as well as dozens of others who had been told the story by their parents and grandparents.

Clark Dyer secured a patent for his flying machine on September 1, 1874, but following his death in 1891, the patent and plane were reportedly sold by his widow to some Redwine brothers from Gainesville, Georgia. Later, the family’s attempts to locate the patent and plane proved futile. Finally, in 2004, Clark’s patent was discovered by one of the young descendents doing a Google search. Then, in the following year, two 1875 newspaper articles were discovered that reported the invention, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on July 16, 1875, and The Eagle (Gainesville, Georgia) on July 31, 1875.

While Clark still has not been included in history books, he has received some noteworthy recognition, namely, State Hwy. 180 was named the “Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway” in July 2006; “Micajah Clark Dyer Day in Union County” was proclaimed on September 1, 2006 (the 132nd anniversary of the granting of the patent); a first class U.S. postage stamp was printed October 28, 2006, showing Clark’s flying machine; he was nominated for induction into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in October 2006; Union County Commissioner framed and hung a display of the U.S. stamp in the courthouse in January 2007.

Some comments by DAR members after the meeting: “I was very interested in the program today and surprised that I have never heard the story.” “Dyer was certainly a visionary and if he had gotten started when he was young, he might have just beat the Wright brothers out.” “He seemed to know about updrafts and how gliders work.” “I am glad to know about Dyer’s flying machine. I know my kids will find it interesting, too.” “We need a display for Dyer in the State Archives Building.”

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