The Bug

From Ohio History Central

Ohioans Charles F. Kettering, Orville Wright, William Chryst, Thomas Midgley, and John Sheats developed "The Bug," a pilot-less airplane and bomb, during World War I.

Hoping to save the lives of American servicemen, the Dayton-Wright Company designed and manufactured "The Bug." It consisted of a small biplane, which had a total wingspan of just fifteen feet. Gyroscopic controls allowed people on the ground, who were behind the safety of their own lines, to pilot the plane over enemy forces. At a prearranged distance, the wings fell off of the plane, causing the plane and the bomb, which consisted of one hundred pounds of dynamite, to crash into enemy positions. The Dayton-Wright Company trained students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to operate the planes. Eventually, the federal government ordered twenty thousand such devices, but World War I ended before the United States military could use "The Bug."

"The Bug" illustrates the important role that Ohioans have played in aviation. With such important names as the Wright Brothers, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and numerous others, Ohioans have been at the forefront of aviation history.

See Also


  1. Crouch, Tom D. The Giant Leap: A Chronology of Ohio Aerospace Events and Personalities, 1815-1969. Columbus: The Ohio History Connection, 1971.