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Replica of Wright 1902 Aircraft


Photo of Orono students working on wings

The scientists and engineers of tomorrow are working to retrace the steps of the Wright Brothers. A half scale replica of the Wright's 1902 aircraft is being built at the Orono Middle School of Orono, Maine. The aircraft is to be used as a traveling exhibit, an educational tool, and eventually as a fixed exhibit at the NASA Glenn Visitor Information Center.

In 2003, the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers' airplane. In reality, the brothers had been flying and learning to fly for several years before. Between 1900 and 1902 the brothers visited Kitty Hawk with a succession of manned gliders which were often flown as kites to determine their aerodynamic characteristics. These efforts culminated in the 1902 aircraft which was the first aircraft in the world to have active control about all three axes. Here's a picture taken in 1902 of the aircraft in flight.

Photo of the 1902 Wright aircraft
The brothers completed hundreds of successful glides with this aircraft.

During the winter of 2002, the 6th grade science students at Orono Middle School, built small scale models of the Wright's 1902 aircraft which can be flown. Led by their teacher, Richard Glueck, the students studied drawings of the original aircraft, developed scale plans, shaped the wing ribs, struts, and control surfaces, performed final construction and then test flew their models. A gallery of photos of this activity has been prepared.

In the spring of 2002, work has begun on building a half scale replica of the 1902 with construction techniques similar to the 1900 replica. Here is a picture of students connecting the ribs to the front spar.

Photo of rib and spar of the Orono replica

And here is another picture of students attaching the skin to the ribs.

Photo of skin, ribs, and spar of the Orono replica
The skin is hand-sown by the students in a real team effort.
Photo of skin, ribs, and spar of the Orono replica
The aircraft is beginning to take shape as shown in this recent photo:
Photo of partially constructed Orono replica
And, finally, here are three photographs of the students at Orono who built this half scale replica:
Photo of partially constructed Orono replica
Photo of partially constructed Orono replica
Photo of partially constructed Orono replica


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Re-Living the Wright Way
Beginner's Guide to Aeronautics
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Editor: Kelly Sands
NASA Official: Nancy Hall
Last Updated: May 10 2021

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