Wings being sewn at the Dayton Wright plant

Did you know the Wright brothers used wax to help their planes fly?

Why wax? On a ship’s sail or an airplane’s cloth wing, it helps catch the air.

The first people to wax canvas were sailors. As far back as the 16th century they used a variety of products to wax their sails. Making the sails airtight allowed them to more effectively harness the power of the wind, and savvy sailors used sailcloth remnants to fashion waterproof clothing.

With the advent of flight, The Wright brothers faced a challenge similar to that of sailors: they needed to make wing surfaces as airtight as possible. The sailors and fishermen around Kitty Hawk sealed their sails with “canvas paint,” a solution of melted paraffin wax and gasoline. The gasoline in the solution evaporates leaving the paraffin behind to seal any spaces between the cotton fibers. This solution was available to Orville and Wilbur, and they used it on the wings and control surfaces of the 1903 Wright Flyer.

The Wright brothers may have chatted up a few women in fabric shops as well. The wing and control surfaces of early planes were covered with cotton muslin boasting a thread count over 200. Such fabric was so soft to the touch it was a popular choice for women’s undergarments, but the Wright brothers chose the fine weave to keep the wings as airtight as possible prior to applying the wax sealant.

The Martexin Wax Finishes on our canvas bags serve the modern traveler with technology long known to sailors and aviators. When it came time to put wax on our luggage we knew there was only one choice: since the 1930s Martexin Wax Finishes have been the benchmark for fabric protection performance. In addition to the amazing practical benefits of this finish, it gives our bags a great vintage look our customers will love. Be first to check them out.

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