Photo by Susan Latham
Replica of Wright 1900 Aircraft
The scientists and engineers of tomorrow are working with today's engineers
and technicians to retrace the steps of the Wright Brothers.
A full scale replica of the Wright's 1900 aircraft has been built
in a joint effort
between the Orono Middle School of Orono, Maine, and the NASA Glenn
Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
The aircraft is to be used as a traveling exhibit, an educational tool,
and eventually as a fixed exhibit at the Glenn Visitor Information Center.
In 2003, the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first flight
of the Wright Brothers'
In reality, the brothers had been flying
and learning to fly for several years before. They first arrived at
Kitty Hawk in
with an aircraft that was flown mostly as an un-piloted
Here's a picture taken in 1900 of the aircraft in flight.
They had come to Kitty Hawk to test out their ideas concerning the
and maneuvering of an aircaft by
or twisting the wings in flight.
On the last day before heading back to Dayton, Ohio, Wilbur took his first
flight in this aircraft. All of the subsequent
looked like this aircraft, with two wings separated by struts and held together
with cables, with a stabilizer/elevator located in the front of the aircraft,
and with the pilot lying on the lower wing.
During the winter of 2000, the 6th grade science students at Orono Middle School,
built a full scale replica of the Wright's 1900
aircraft. Led by their teacher, Richard Glueck, the students shaped the
wing ribs, connected them to the wing spars, sewed on the wing covering, built
the struts, and put the aircraft together.
Here is a picture of a spar and rib.
Just like the Wright brothers, the students flew their aircraft as a kite,
as shown at the top of this page. After the flight attempts, the kite was
disassembled and the struts were given to the students as a memento. Mr
Glueck then offered the wings of the replica to NASA and the
Centennial of Flight Commission.
In late May of 2001, the wings arrived at the NASA Glenn Research Center.
Technicians in Glenn's Prototyping and Outsourcing Branch reconstructed the
aircraft to replace the struts and incorporate the wing warping used by the
Wright brothers. The various stages of the reconstruction are shown in the photo
gallery. The completed aircraft is shown in this photo:
The aircraft is currently being used as a traveling exhibit. It was
at the Ohio Society for the Elevation of Kites (OSEK)
free fly on July 8, 2001. It has been
at the Congressional
Centennial of Flight Booth at the AirVenture Airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin,
in late July, 2001.
and at the Cleveland Airshow, Sept 1-3, 2001.
The aircraft is also used for educational purposes. The aircraft has been
rigged to illustrate the Wright brothers' wing warping technique for
roll control. To demonstrate this
technique and other fundamentals of aerodynamics,
engineers at NASA Glenn will attempt to fly
the aircraft at the NASA Glenn
of the performance of the aircraft indicate that sustained winds of 15-20
mph are necessary to
the weight of the aircraft. On the
to fly the kite, we only had sustained winds of 8-10 mph with gusts
to 20 mph. During the gusts, the plane would lift, but not long enough to
truly fly. We are currently (Aug 30, 2001) waiting for the higher winds
of autumn to try again. On September 14, 2001, we will be conducting a
from the NASA Glenn Hangar showing the aircraft and recent results.
- Re-Living the Wright Way
- Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics
- NASA Home Page