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What's it Doing Here???

With a goal of providing thorough documentation of the first successful, powered, piloted aircraft, the Los Angeles Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) approached NASA Ames Research Center with a proposal to test their replica of the Wright Brothers' 1903 Flyer in one of Ames' wind tunnels.

Ames wind tunnel Prior to their request of Ames, the group had conducted some preliminary wind tunnel tests of several scale models of the aircraft. However, those tests did not provide sufficient data. Feasibility discussions took place between AIAA and Ames, ultimately resulting in approval of the test. It is currently scheduled for 1999.

The wind tunnel tests will generate data about the following features of the aircraft:

  • The stability characteristics of the aircraft with its power on;

  • The control power of the canards, wing warp and rudders;

  • The characteristics of linked wing warp and rudder controls.

From both a technical and historical standpoint there is much to be gained from collecting data about the Wright Brothers' work. With the 100th anniversary of flight approaching in 2003, this is a timely project. In fact, the AIAA volunteers plan to build a new, safer "replica" to fly at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 2003 to commemorate the centennial of flight.

"As the work of the Wrights founded the science and
technology of aeronautics, their accomplishments form
one of the grandest chapters in American history."

Jack Cherne, Chairman, Wright Flyer Project

The Wright Flyer Project has captured the interest of aviation and history buffs everywhere. Not only has it been the subject of lectures and articles, it was recently touted as an exciting educational opportunity in a letter from Vice President Al Gore.

Ames is proud to be a part of this project. While NASA is usually associated with reaching toward the future, it also appreciates this opportunity to touch the past.


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