When Tellus Northwest Georgia Science Museum in Cartersville, Ga., opened its doors in January 2009, visitors saw a full-sized replica of the Wright flyer that carried Orville and Wilbur Wright into aviation history—courtesy of Joni and Daymon Johnstone and family. The Johnstones own Lakeside Marine Canvas, Buford, Ga., and, after extensive research, painstakingly created and attached the replica’s canvas cover.
The family team of canvas makers and quilters, including Johnstone’s children Abby and Morgan, mother Cynthia and aunt Cassandra Williams, followed a meticulous plan. Johnstone drove to Augusta to see another museum’s replica and spent two days taking hundreds of photos of the cover stitching, panel placement, tack positions and guide wire connections. He also read diaries of other organizations’ efforts to replicate the Wright flyer. Two months of around-the-clock stitching followed, ending June 18, 2008, almost 105 years from the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. “The detail in their work was amazing,” says Brock Cooney, an educator at the Tellus Museum. The Johnstone clan enjoyed the one-of-a-kind commission as well. “It had to be exciting for [the Wright brothers],” says Joni Johnstone. “We feel a similar excitement today, having followed in their footsteps for this little while.”
Information from a December 17, 2008, article by Gracie Bonds Staples in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this story.