The Wright Brothers Go Virtual

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While preparations continue for the historic reenactment of the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk this December, the replica aircraft has already made its first flight ... sort of. The folks at Microsoft and EAA have teamed up to launch a virtual version of this famed aircraft, creating a new-generation replica -- in the form of a flight simulator -- of the 1903 Wright Flyer. This unique simulation will be an integral part of EAA's Countdown to Kitty Hawk 24,000-square-foot touring pavilion and visitors will be welcome to try their hand at the controls. EAA’s Restoration Center staff built the highly accurate physical simulator, which runs on Microsoft’s popular flight-simulator software. The simulator replicates the "cockpit" harness of the 1903 Flyer. To operate it, a person needs to lie face-down in the cradle and manipulate the wing-warping and rudder controls with his or her hips, holding the throttle handle with the right hand and the elevator with the left. Microsoft’s Flight Simulator team tackled the software project head-on: Artists created the Kitty Hawk scenery, aeronautical experts made the flight model, and remote-imaging PhDs literally made an artificial world. The Wrights would be proud.