Wright Flyer Down


Wright Replica Meets Kill Devil Hills, Hard

The EAA-supported, Ken-Hyde-inspired 1903 Wright Flyer replica may have proven itself a bit too authentic Tuesday morning at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, when just after liftoff it pitched over and crashed. (Yes, this is the same one they’re going to fly during the Centennial of Flight celebration at Kitty Hawk on Dec. 17.) Pilot Terry Queijo, who captains Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft for American Airlines, fared a bit better than the Wright Experience‘s aircraft, escaping physically unharmed by the impact of the crash, but clearly emotionally concerned for the impact her flight may have had on the airframe. Fortunately, her plunge from about four feet at roughly eight miles per hour (groundspeed) did little damage, in Hyde’s estimation, and by Tuesday evening the prognosis was optimistic, with perhaps little more than a day’s worth of repairs. Terry Queijo and Dr. Ken Kochersberger will vie, via a coin toss, to pilot the replica aircraft at the festivities on Dec. 17. Both Kochersberger and Chris Johnson (another Flyer pilot) were jogging alongside the replica during the accident run and quickly checked on Queijo. When she was found unharmed, attention turned to the aircraft. With fabric, canard and other damage among the fixes, we’ll hope Hyde’s repair assessment rings true, and that the accident proves more beneficial in generating interest in the centennial event than it was detrimental to the aircraft. After all, the Wrights’ own experience wasn’t so different. A flight piloted by Wilbur on Dec. 14, 1903, damaged the Flyer when it pitched up (and then down) faster than the famous Wright could react. The brothers had their aircraft mended well enough for Orville to hop the momentous 120 feet on the 17th. A hop later that day reached 852 feet.