|March 3, 2003|
RELEASE: 03-085The end of the first powered flight on December 14, 1903. Photo credit: US Air Force.
An authentic, airworthy reproduction of the Wright brothers' first
successful powered flying machine is undergoing aerodynamic testing
at the Langley Full Scale Tunnel (LFST). The tunnel is owned by
NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, Va., and operated
by Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Va. The LFST was built
in 1930. It was NASA's first full-scale wind tunnel.
During this experiment, underwritten primarily by ODU, engineers
will take measurements to determine how the 1903 Wright Flyer replica
can be safely 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 aircraft.
"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 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," he said.
The wind tunnel tests are part of research being done by ODU and Ken Hyde of the Wright Experience of Warrenton, Va. The not-for-profit Discovery of Flight Foundation, also in Warrenton, to uncover and document how the Wright brothers managed to conquer the principles of controlled, powered flight in five short years, contracted the Wright Experience.
The Wright Flyer replica, built with help from the Ford Motor Co.
and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in Oshkosh, Wis.,
will use two different motors during tests. One is a gasoline-powered
reproduction of the primitive engine designed and built by the Wrights
in 1903. The other is an electric motor donated by Teco Westinghouse
Corporation that can be controlled precisely during wind tunnel
"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 17 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 reduce the risk involved in the replica
flight later this year," he said.
"We can't predict what the weather will be December 17, 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 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 about the Wright Experience on the Internet,
For more information about the LFST on the Internet, visit:
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