December 13, 2009

Micajah Clark Dyer Foundation Receives Donation from Descendant

Kenneth Dyer presents a check for $1,000 to Sylvia Dyer Turnage for the Micajah Clark Dyer gravesite project

The Micajah Clark Dyer Foundation received a generous gift from Kenneth Dyer of Dahlonega. Ken made the gift to assist in restoration of the gravesite and placement of a memorial headstone at the Old Choestoe Church Cemetery to honor Georgia’s pioneer aviator, Micajah Clark Dyer.

Installation of a slab over Clark’s and wife Morena’s graves has already been completed and design of the memorial stone is presently underway. Engraving on the stone will honor Dyer for his invention of an aircraft in the 1800s, which incorporated flight controls not previously known in aviation. The original headstones of Clark and Morena will be inset in the new stone; the total project is expected to be completed within the next ninety days.

Sylvia Dyer Turnage, treasurer of the foundation, said, “The Foundation has received approval from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization for the purpose of further educating the public about Micajah Clark Dyer’s important historical invention. This status allows donors to take an income tax deduction for their gifts.” She said the names of all donors to this project will be included in the program for the dedication ceremony planned for early next summer.

Kenneth Dyer, a great great grandson of Micajah Clark Dyer, said, “I am so pleased to see the work started on this project, and I am glad to take part in helping to get it accomplished. It will help bring attention to a man whose achievement in aeronautics is very deserving of recognition.”

Read the story in the Union Sentinel

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August 3, 2009

Micajah Clark Dyer Memorial and Gravesite Restoration Announced

At the Dyer-Souther Reunion held on July 18, 2009, Andrew Turnage gave an update on activities being planned to honor his great-great-great-grandfather, Micajah Clark Dyer. He stated that a non-profit corporation has been formed to further the goals of educating the public about Clark Dyer’s achievements. He provided contact information for the new corporation:

Micajah Clark Dyer Foundation, Inc.
6737 Low Gap Rd.
Blairsville, GA 30512
MicajahClarkDyerFoundation (at)

Andrew gave an interesting summary of some unusual facts about Clark’s 1874 patent for his flying machine. At the U.S. Patent Office, his patent is in Class 244, for “Aeronautics and Astronautics,” and Subclass 28, for “Airships with Beating Wings Sustained.” From 1790 to present, only fifty patents have been granted in Class 244/28, including one for a solar-powered hovering surveillance craft by security giant Rockwell in 2002. Clark’s Georgia patent is the second-oldest.

The most notable component of Clark’s patent is that it lays claim to controlling flight. Up to that point, mainstream flight was by steam balloons and fixed wing gliders. Balloons were at the mercy of the wind. Gliders flew only a few feet with the aid of ramps. Clark’s invention was transitional. It married the two concepts, balloon and wings, together decades before “zephyrs” appeared overseas. It also incorporated the means to control sustained flight.

The reunion group was informed that work has begun on restoring Clark Dyer’s gravesite. The operations will include leveling the cemetery plots where Clark and his wife, Morena, are buried in the old Choestoe Church Cemetery; encasing the original, now deteriorated markers within a wall for future protection from the elements; and engraving a memorial on the wall to honor Clark as the inventor of Georgia’s first airplane.

A search is underway to find the best place for a permanent museum or exhibition site for Clark’s patent and information. He also said that plans are being made to place exhibits in the local libraries and schools.

An invitation was given for everyone interested in helping with the projects and getting information about future developments to let the Micajah Clark Dyer Foundation know of their interest.

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July 9, 2009

2009 Dyer-Souther Reunion - Saturday, July 18

By Ethelene Dyer Jones

This year's reunion will be a time to re-connect with family members near and far, to share some great food and fellowship, to honor those recently deceased from among us and welcome new additions to the family. We will also have the opportunity to learn a little about our many forebears from the time of the Revolution, as well as what is known of their service to the cause.

Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. The meal will begin as close to noon as possible, and we will have a brief business meeting, memorials/recognitions and a short program starting about 1:00 p.m.

The location is the Choestoe Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.
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May 26, 2009

Clark Dyer’s Grandson Who Never Told a Lie

-by Sylvia Dyer Turnage

An article published in the April 23, 2009 issue of the Union Sentinel by writer and historian Ethelene Dyer Jones tells about the life of John Andrew Wimpey (1887–1980). Johnny Wimpey was the grandson of Micajah Clark Dyer (1822–1891), who invented a flying machine in the North Georgia mountains during the mid-1800s.

Mrs. Jones’ article says, “One of John Andrew Wimpey’s favorite stories to tell was about seeing his grandfather’s flying machine invention. For any who doubted that a plane had been made at Choestoe years before the Wright Brothers’ flight in Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903, they referred to Johnny Wimpey’s story, and reasoned, ‘It must have been true: Johnny Wimpey never tells a lie.’”

The reason for some skepticism about whether or not Clark Dyer actually invented an airplane in the late 1800s was that the modern standard of documentation, typically photographs and records, couldn't be produced by the family. No one knew what happened to the patent or the flying machine after Clark’s death. The family had searched for Clark’s alleged patent in every place they knew to look – the National Archives, Library of Congress, Dun and Bradstreet records, but didn’t succeed in finding a trace.

Then, in late 2004, a great-great-great-grandson, Joey Dyer, was searching the Internet when he managed to locate Clark’s patent in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. What a discovery! The family was elated to finally see Patent No. 154,654 that was issued to Clark on September 1, 1874 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The sophisticated drawings and detailed specifications of the flying machine he had included in his patent application were most remarkable. The aeronautical principles Clark had addressed were ahead of those that others trying to invent a flying machine had yet envisioned at that time. He included many innovative features: a power source, a rudder for steering, paddle wheels for acceleration and deceleration, jointed moving wings to increase or decrease altitude, and a wedge-shaped hull with inclined prow to reduce wind resistance.

In the year following discovery of his patent, two 1875 newspaper articles were discovered that reported Clark’s invention: the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, dated July 16, 1875, and The Eagle (Gainesville, Georgia), dated July 31, 1875. A comment in The Eagle article reveals the length of time Clark had been working on his invention and the depth of his conviction in his ability to get his craft airborne.
The article says:
Mr. Dyer has been studying the subject of air navigation for thirty years…he himself has the most unshaken faith in its success, and is ready, as soon as the machine can be constructed, to board the ship and commit himself to the wind.

Finally, in July 2006 public recognition was given to Clark’s invention by erection of three highway signs declaring State Highway 180, from its junction with U.S. Highway 19/129 to the Brasstown Bald Mountain Spur, the “Micajah Clark Dyer Parkway.” Other recognitions followed: Proclamation of “Micajah Clark Dyer Day in Union County on Sept. 1, 2006; first class U.S. postage stamp picturing Clark’s flying machine Oct. 28, 2006; nomination for Clark’s induction into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame Oct. 30, 2006; framed copy of the stamp displayed in Union County Courthouse Jan. 15, 2007; permanent display of Clark’s patent, model of his plane, and a book containing the illustrated story of his invention in the Union County Historical Museum in January 2008; and a playing card featuring a drawing from the patent included in the deck produced by Union County Historical Society Dec. 10, 2008. Also, the story of Clark Dyer’s flying machine has been carried by numerous newspapers, radio and television stations, and live presentations have been made to many different groups throughout the past several years.

Realizing that much remains to be done before the state and nation become aware of this important piece of history, a Steering Committee was established in September 2008 to work on several projects, such as restoration of Clark’s gravesite, locating someone to reproduce the flying machine and planning construction of a museum for displaying the replica.

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January 14, 2009

UC Playing Cards Feature Clark Dyer's Patent

The Union County Historical Society has produced a deck of playing cards featuring interesting images and pictures from Union County's history on the fifty-six face-sides, with the Old Historical Courthouse pictured on the back of each card.

The King of Clubs in the deck features the front view image from Micajah Clark Dyer’s U. S. Patent for his flying machine granted in 1874. The family of Wilonell and Ervin Dyer, descendents of the pioneer inventor aviator, were the sponsors of this card. Other cards in the deck feature several of Clark Dyer's descendents.

The Union County Historical Society is selling the deck of cards for $10.00 each as a fund-raising effort. The deck is a fun way to learn more about Union County’s history, which includes Clark's story.

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