From left to right are: Frank Trenholm Coffyn; A. Roy Knabenshue; and Walter Brookins in Atlantic City in 1910
From left to right are: Frank Trenholm Coffyn; A. Roy Knabenshue; and Walter Brookins in Atlantic City in 1910

The Wright Exhibition Team was a group of early aviators trained by the Wright brothers at Wright Flying School in Montgomery, Alabama in March 1910.


The group was formed in 1910 at the suggestion of balloonist Augustus Roy Knabenshue.

The team made its first public appearance on June 13, 1910 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The team performed aerial shows and set records for altitude (4939 feet) and endurance.

Pilots were paid $20 per week and $50 a day when flying. By August there were five separate teams flying at one time with $186,000 in receipts. Ralph Johnstone was the first to be killed.

After attempting another altitude record over Denver's Overland Park in November, Johnstone put his plane into Walter Richard Brookins' 'spiral dip' dive, and he never recovered. The plane plummeted to the ground, and Johnstone was crushed.

A month later, on New Year's Eve, 1910, Arch Hoxsey was killed in an identical crash. Although the team had lost its star fliers, newer pilots trained by Welsh joined the team and continued performing around the country at 25 locations.

Troubled by the deaths of the pilots, the group was disbanded in November 1911.


† Died in flight crashes.



  1. ^ "Walter Brookins, 63, Early Record Flyer". New York Times. April 30, 1953. Retrieved 2011-11-17. Walter Brookins, pioneer aviator and leading aviation figure, died today at his home after an illness of four months. His age was ...
  2. ^ "Frank Trenholm Coffyn. Original Member of Wright Brothers Exhibition Team. Mapped Airmail Routes". Associated Press in the New York Times. December 11, 1960. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  3. ^ "Aviator Parmelee Plunges to Death. Caught by Treacherous Gust of Wind While Giving Exhibition Flight in Washington State". New York Times. June 2, 1912. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Philip Parmelee, the aviator, was killed here today while giving an exhibition flight from the fair grounds. Parmalee was the flying partner of Clifford Turpin, whose airship flew into the grandstand at Seattle Thursday, killing two persons and injuring fifteen.
  4. ^ Duval La Chapelle
  5. ^ "Lieut. Hazelhurst and Al Welsh, Professional Aviator, Victims of Airship Test". The New York Times. June 12, 1912. Retrieved 2009-09-04. Lieut. Leighton W. Hazelhurst, Jr., of the Seventeenth Infantry, one of the most promising of the younger aviators of the army, and Al Welsh, one of the most daring professional aviators in America, were instantly killed in a flight at the Army Aviation School at College Park, Md., at 6:30 o'clock this evening.
  6. ^ Joshua Stoff. Long Island aircraft crashes 1909-1959. p. 16.
  7. ^ "Brookins Thrill with Acrobatics High in the Air ; Young Man Bird Gives Foretaste of Aviation Meet Sensations to Invited Guests ; Famous Spiral Dip Shown". No. Volume 33, Number 80. Los Angeles Herald. December 20, 1910. p. 1. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  8. ^ Aero and Hydro: 387. 5 August 1911. ((cite journal)): Missing or empty |title= (help)