Do-It-yourself Flyer

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ooking for someone to build a replica of a Wright airplane? We do that. And we bring something extra to the project.

We get that a Wright Flyer or or glider is an educational experience on many levels. It goes without saying that the aircraft represents a triumphant milestone in the history of science and technology. The story of the first controlled flights is an opportunity to present multiple concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. At a deeper level, it is a clear and detailed real-world example of the Scientific Method and the power it has to change our lives.

And at a still deeper level, it is a inspirational story of character – innovation, courage, dedication, and above all the simple American virtue called gumption. Sharpen your wits, put aside your doubts, roll up your sleeves and get it done. It is for this reason that the story of the Wright brothers, more so than any other scientific breakthrough, is an essential part of our cultural mythology. It defines who we are and where we are going. It is the story we tell our children to convince them of the power of their dreams and, more important, that they must be willing to do the work to achieve those dreams.

All of which are excellent reasons to hang a Wright Flyer in your museum, your airport, or any other place where young minds are apt to bump into it. But we take this educational experience thing deeper still.

Hands-on science – We build most of our airplanes with the involvement of young people, usually students from 9 to 16 years old. Our mission is to get kids up close and personal with science and technology, and building an airplane is an exciting way to do just that. There are many parts of a Wright Flyer – the ribs, in particular – that are simple enough for children to build under adult supervision and do a flight-worthy job. So we have developed "Rib Workshops" in which the participants build Flyer wing ribs and sign them. They also glean some aviation history and aeronautical science while they work.

We take these signed wing ribs, test them for structural soundness, and incorporate them in an historically accurate replica of a Wright Flyer. If a rib doesn't pass or if the workshops produce too many ribs (as is frequently the case) we shave the signatures off with a veneer saw and affix them to the wing spars. Once the ribs and spars are covered with fabric, the signatures can no longer be seen. The Flyer appears to be a perfect copy of the real thing. But the kids know the signatures are there, as do their parents. The invisible signatures remain a source of both individual and collective pride.

Good will – Besides the obvious educational value to the participants, our Rib Workshops have far-reaching benefits for your institution. Because they are newsworthy, they immediately raise the public awareness of your institution. The participation gives your members and visitors ownership in the Flyer project; it is no longer just an artifact you've purchased from another source. The parents of the participants are impressed by and grateful for the experience, and they will bring their kids back for more of the same. Eventually, these young people will grow up and bring their own children to your institution. Those that achieve positions of wealth and leadership in adulthood will support your institution in large part because of memorable experiences like the Rib Workshop and the Do-It-Yourself Flyer. Programs like these are the seed corn of every community-supported organization.

Fly-it-yourself – We also provide something that will continue to make your Wright Flyer a memorable experience long after the you sweep up the sawdust from the Rib Workshops. We've been showing Wright aircraft at museums and air shows for ten years and have noticed that these events generate a great deal more excitement when your visitors can actually fly the aircraft. To this end, we provide a Wright Flyer Flight Simulator with each of the Flyers we build. The simulators are simple, durable, and easy to maintain. Most important, they are a great deal of fun. An historic airplane is ordinarily the center of an informative display, but our simulator turns it into an interactive experience. Your visitors walk away knowing first-hand what it's like to pilot the very first airplane.

Historic value – Although we involve children in the construction of our Wright replicas, we take pride in the quality and the historical accuracy of our workmanship. Few organizations have done as much research as we have into the construction methods of the Wright brothers, and none have done more research into the flying characteristics of their aircraft. Thanks to the generosity of several benefactors, we have a supply of wooden parts and wing covering from original Wright airplanes. We include a small amount of this historic wood and cloth into each replica aircraft and provide a provenance for these parts. We do this because history has awesome authority. Many who view an aircraft replica with historic relics, however small, find it easier to connect with the their heritage.

What if – the Rib Workshops and flight simulator are of no practical value to your organization; you just want a Flyer to hang in your lobby? No problem; we do that too. But we insist on extracting some educational value from the effort. In this case, we would take the time and money we would have invested in the workshops and simulator, and visit several schools of your choosing with our Secret of Flight program. We would alert the school staff, parents, and local media that your organization is the benefactor.

Want to know more? Please – contact us.

Young participants in a "Rib Workshop" make ribs for a 1903 Wright Flyer.

Public awareness increases if you ask local leaders and personalities to work side-by-side with the kids. Here Stephen Wright, great-grandnephew of Wilbur and Orville Wright, builds a rib with his sons.

As the wing ribs accumulate, they are incorporated into wings and covered.

The covered wings come together in our hangar to make a Flyer.

And the completed Flyer is installed in your institution. This is the 1903 Flyer replica we built (with the participation of young people from all over America) to hang in the Dayton International Airport.

Our 1903 Wright Flyer Flight Simulator. In a museum setting, the simulator and the aircraft work together to make a popular interactive display.

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