Wright Replica A Modern Challenge

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Making history can be easier, in some ways, than re-creating it, as three aerospace engineers are finding out in California. Michael Aten, Scot Hazel and Ben Barackman have been pulling their hair out trying to build a replica of the glider the Wrights built before they strapped an engine on the contraption. The glider weighs just 115 pounds but it's taken the engineers six months of evenings and weekends to build. It made its first public appearance at the Wings Over Gillespie air show last weekend and will eventually hang in the San Diego Aerospace Museum. As with most modern attempts to re-create the Wrights' genius, materials and building techniques posed the biggest challenge for the group. The steam-bending technique used to form the wooden wing slats hasn't been used since horse-and-buggy days and the engineers had to build their own steamer. Then they had to learn how to use it. "We had to remake parts so many times it almost became a mantra," said Aten. And while the group learned a lot about history, technology and the roots of their own profession, they aren't satisfied. They're now planning to apply their newly found, old knowledge to the construction of a 1908 Wright Model A, identical to the one taken to Europe by Wilbur Wright.