TYPE: Technology demonstrator.
PROGRAMME: Powered derivative of Wright Glider. Fabricated at Dayton, Ohio, and assembled at company test airfield, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Damaged in first attempt at flight, 14 December 1903, Wilbur Wright (1867-1912) unharmed; repaired. First flight 17 December 1903, test pilot Orville Wright (1871-1948); distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds; made total of four flight (all 17 December; last of 852 feet/59 seconds) before being damaged and then dismantled. Type retrospectively designated Flyer I, but did not enter production.
Various copies made by individual organisations during following 100 years, including several in 2002-03. An official reproduction of the Wright Flyer was commissioned by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in 2000 and sponsored by Ford Motor Company, supported by Microsoft Flight Simulator and Eclipse Aviation and with Library of Congress and Flying magazine as partners and Northrop Grumman supporting pilot training. Construction was by Ken Hyde of The Wright Experience at Warrenton, Virginia. Public debut (then unflown) at Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC, 18 March 2003; statically exhibited at Sun 'n' Fun, Lakeland, Florida, 2 to 8 April 2003 and at several subsequent venues, including AirVenture (Oshkosh) and NBAA Convention (Orlando); special Certificate of Airworthiness (including prohibition of aerobatics) issued 1 August 2003; first proving flight (N1903R) 20 November 2003 (pilot Dr Kevin Kochersberger); failed to become properly airborne at official anniversary celebrations on 17 December 2003 because of rain and lack of wind.
CUSTOMERS: One original aircraft only. Repaired following accident; donated to Science Museum, London, 1928; transferred to Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC, 1949. EAA reproduction aircraft donated to Henry Ford Museum in 2004.
DESIGN FEATURES: Stick-and-wire-braced, deliberately unstable biplane with biplane canard elevators; twin rudders; no ailerons, flaps, fixed fins or wheeled landing gear. EAA reproduction duplicates the original exactly and includes no changes, modifications or improvements to the original.
Wing camber 1:20; slight anhedral to combat crosswinds.
FLYING CONTROLS: Manual and pelvic. Hand lever for pitch control via twin canard elevators; foot pedals for yaw control via twin rudders; pelvic cradle for roll control and turn co-ordination via 'wing warping' deflection of outer wing panels. Wire actuation. Pitch instability evident during all flights.
STRUCTURE: Spruce and ash with steel wires, propeller drive shafts and fittings, and aluminium fairings. Wings covered in doped Pride of the West muslin with stitched joints.
LANDING GEAR: Skid type; aircraft launched from 18 m (60 ft) ground rail.
POWER PLANT: One 8.95 kW (12 hp) Wright-Taylor four-cylinder piston engine, mounted on upper surface of lower wing to starboard of centreline, turning two contrarotating Wright wooden (silver spruce) propellers via a chain and sprocket drive adapted from a Wright bicycle.
ACCOMMODATION: One person only, in prone position, on lower wing to port of centreline. No windscreen. Accommodation ventilated.