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The Wright Flight Nobody Saw...

While millions watched on Dec. 17 as the EAA's Wright Flyer struggled along its rail and failed to get aloft, only a few people were present on Dec. 3, when the aircraft successfully left the ground and flew for more than 100 feet. "We had video of that flight, and hoped to show it at the site on Dec. 17, but it didn't work out," Ken Hyde told AVweb on Saturday. Viewers who caught the Discovery Channel's coverage saw the video, and now a QuickTime version is posted at Hyde's Wright Experience Web site so everyone can see what they didn't get to see on the 17th -- a show of powered, sustained, controlled flight, the way it was done 100 years ago.

"We knew we were pushing the envelope," Hyde said. "Everything had to be perfect [for the Flyer to lift off], and it wasn't." The dampness hurt engine efficiency, and the winds were too light and unreliable. It was frustrating, he said, that conditions were excellent on the 16th, but they didn't dare fly for fear of damaging the airplane so close to the big date, and then not having time for repairs. And in the days after the 17th, the wind was stronger and from a better direction. "Everyone got to fly the 1902 glider at Jockey's Ridge," Hyde said, referring to the sand dunes near Kitty Hawk. "It was a real busman's holiday."