The "Wright" Stuff

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EAA Unveils Wright Flyer Replica...

The EAA unveiled its 1903 Wright Flyer reproduction in a ceremony at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on Tuesday. EAA's Flyer reproduction will re-enact the Wright brothers' first flight 100 years later to the minute on Dec. 17, 2003, in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. With Amanda Wright Lane and her brother Stephen Wright, both descendents of Wilbur and Orville Wright, looking on, EAA and its sponsors for Countdown to Kitty Hawk rolled out the 605-pound aircraft, handmade primarily of wood, steel and muslin. "The eyes of the world will be on EAA's Wright Flyer this coming Dec. 17 as we attempt to re-create the Wright brothers' first powered flight on the dunes of North Carolina," said EAA President and U.S. Centennial of Flight Commissioner Tom Poberezny. Ken Hyde, of Warrenton, Va.-based The Wright Experience, the organization that built EAA's Flyer, said, "It's pretty easy to build a Wright Flyer replica that looks like the first plane, but it's very difficult to build one that is an exact reproduction." He said that building this Flyer was "the ultimate reverse engineering job with a major catch." Hyde and crew had to ignore what they had learned over the past 100 years and revert to the Wright brothers' way of thinking.

...While Others Join The Hoopla...

As the Centennial Of Flight celebration continues, we hear more about some other Wright Flyer replicas surrounding this series of events. For example, the FAA presented the Wright Redux Association with an Airworthiness Certificate for their replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer. The certification -- issued on March 15 -- permits the plane, called the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn," to attempt powered flight. According to its builders, the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" appears to be the first Wright Flyer replica that is being certificated in accordance with a new FAA policy, designed specifically for 1903 Wright Flyer replica aircraft. "We have been waiting for this day for three years," said Mark Miller, co-president of Wright Redux. After a couple more weeks of test "towing," the group believes the replica will be ready to fly early this spring. Another replica of Wright design will also take to the skies this summer. At this summer's Muskegon Air Fair, Dana Smith plans to fly a replica of the Wright brothers' Model EX. The Model EX replica is patterned after the "Vin Fiz," which flew from Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., to Long Beach, Calif., in 49 days during the fall of 1911. Smith's version of the Vin Fiz weighs 400 pounds less than the original and has a redesigned rudder.

...And A Kiwi's Accomplishments Are Still Remembered

While the Wright Brother's accomplishments continue to be celebrated, some in New Zealand are making it a point to remember their own aviation pioneer. Many Kiwis claim that fellow countryman Richard Pearse developed and tested his first machine about the time the Wrights were experimenting near Kitty Hawk. Pearse designed a two-cylinder, horizontally opposed, two-stroke engine with the prop mounted directly to the engine. The tricycle gear had inflated tires, and the nose wheel was steerable. His method of lateral control was by wingtip spoiler/flap, and his method of controlling the craft's up-down pitch was by an elevator that was mounted at the rear. The Wright brothers, on the other hand, used a self-made, four-cylinder, in-line engine. They used a 20-meter wooden launching track and catapult device to get their craft moving and in a straight line, and they used chain drives from the engine to power two separate propellers. Regardless of the chosen design method, the main question remains who flew first. While the Wrights had the witnesses to watch their first flights, Pearse did not. The debate continues.