ENGINEERS TEST REPRODUCTION IN TUNNEL VISITED BY ORVILLE
It triggers the imagination
what would aviation pioneer
Orville Wright think about a reproduction of his 1903 Wright Flyer
being tested in a wind tunnel Wright, himself, used to visit?
An authentic airworthy reproduction of the Wright brothers'
successful powered flying machine is undergoing aerodynamic testing
at the Langley Full Scale Tunnel, owned by NASA's Langley Research
Center in Hampton, Va., and operated by Old Dominion University
(ODU) in Norfolk, Va. The Langley Full Scale Tunnel was built in
1930 and was NASA's first full-scale wind tunnel.
During this experiment, which is being underwritten primarily by
Old Dominion University with significant support from the Aerospace
Vehicle Systems Technology Office at Langley Research Center,
engineers will take the necessary measurements to determine how the
1903 Wright Flyer replica can be flown and controlled. They'll use
the information, not only to document the 40.5-foot wingspan
aircraft's flying characteristics, but also to create the first
accurate flight simulator to teach pilots how to fly the primitive
"NASA Langley is proud to sponsor wind tunnel tests of this
accurate, authentic reproduction of the Wright Flyer. The first man
to fly, Orville Wright, was on the advisory committee that
established NASA's Langley Research Center in 1917," said Ed Prior,
deputy director of NASA Langley's Office of Education. "Wright also
visited Langley a number of times. In fact, we have at least one
picture of Orville Wright taken in the very same tunnel where the
Wright Flyer reproduction is being tested."
The wind tunnel tests are part of research being done by ODU and
Ken Hyde of the Wright Experience of Warrenton, Va. The Wright
Experience has been contracted by the not-for-profit Discovery of
Flight Foundation, also in Warrenton, to uncover and document how
the Wright brothers, neither of whom finished high school, managed
to conquer the principles of controlled, powered flight in five
During the tests the Wright Flyer, which was built with help
from the Ford Motor Co. and the Experimental Aircraft Association
in Oshkosh, Wis., will use two different motors. One is a
gasoline-powered reproduction of the primitive engine designed and
built by the Wright brothers in 1903. The other is an electric
motor donated by Teco Westinghouse Corporation, which can be
controlled precisely during wind tunnel testing.
"Rediscovering the secrets of the Wright brothers to inspire a
new generation is what motivates The Wright Experience," said Hyde.
"Our journey will continue through December 17th this
year with the flight of this 1903 Wright flyer reproduction at
Kitty Hawk. These wind tunnel tests will help us recreate the
Wrights' historic accomplishment and help us reduce the risk
involved in the flight."
"We can't predict what the weather will be on December
17th 2003, when the Wright Experience plans to fly the
EAA Flyer reproduction," said Professor Robert Ash, Wright test
program manager for ODU. "We only know that the original Flyer
could be flown on a cold day into a 27 mph wind. The wind tunnel
test results will give us the necessary knowledge to guide and
train pilots for virtually all eventualities."
The Wright Experience and ODU have already built and tested 1901
and 1902 Wright glider reproductions along with a suite of Wright
propellers in their quest to "reverse engineer" the 1903 Wright
Flyer and other early Wright aircraft.
For more information on the Wright Experience please check the
For more information on the Langley Full Scale Tunnel please
check the Internet at:
Reporters are invited to observe the wind tunnel tests of the
1903 Wright Flyer reproduction and interview Ken Hyde and other
researchers Friday, February 28. Crews should arrive at the Langley
Air Force Base LaSalle gate by 10 a.m. so they can be escorted to
the Langley Full Scale Tunnel.