- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

A replica of the Wright Flyer used to take the historic Dec. 17, 1903, flight over the North Carolina sand dunes at Kitty Hawk was made public yesterday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, as flight enthusiasts celebrated the Wright brothers' greatest creation.
The 605-pound, 7-foot-tall glider, built primarily of wood, steel and muslin, will sail the exact path of its prototype later this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of flight.
"The event needed to be so special that everybody from the most jaded traveler to the experienced pilot would feel pride and goose bumps," said Tom Poberezny, president of the Experimental Aircraft Association and U.S. Centennial of Flight commissioner. "This centennial is perhaps our greatest opportunity to rekindle a fascination and appreciation for flight and what it contributes to our society."
The hand-built Flyer replica boasts a 40-foot-wingspan and a 12-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. It will tour the nation before making its first flight Dec. 17 in Kitty Hawk, now part of Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
"Today, one of my dreams has become a reality," said Ken Hyde, a retired commercial airline pilot and founder of the Wright Experience, the organization that built the Flyer replica.
Mr. Hyde said rebuilding the plane has been his dream for more than a decade. The reproduction features details faithful to the original and is made without any modern alterations, a difficult task since many of the tools used by Orville and Wilbur Wright no longer exist. The Wright Brothers also often worked in secrecy, leaving behind few blueprints or other types of instructions.
"You will find no books, no detailed drawings of what this airplane should look like, no manuals to adjust the engine, or how tight to torque the propellers," Mr. Hyde said.
"This effort is the ultimate reverse engineering job with one major catch we had to ignore what we have learned over the past 100 years. We could make no corrections to their work, we had to learn to accept their design flaws and embrace their thinking, even though today we know … there are many more efficient ways to accomplish the same thing."
Amanda Wright Lane, the great-grandniece of the Wrights, called the plane "the work of kindred spirits."
She said she and her brother, Stephen Wright, have been reading everything they can to learn about the historical background of their famous ancestors since many of the stories they heard while growing up were about their uncles' penchant for pranks and their curious nature.
Mrs. Lane, 49, said she and her brother and their families will be at Kill Devil Hills for the commemorative flight in December.
"It will be magic," she said. "When the Flyer finally leaves the track, a 100-year-old photo will come to life, reminding us all of the best in mankind and the brightest in kindred spirits."

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