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Welcome and News


In the Wright Flyer Online, aviation history met the 1990's. At this Web site you will learn about the Wright Flyer Project, in which a full-sized replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer, flown in the first-ever powered flight, was tested in a wind tunnel at NASA Ames Research Center. You and your students can follow its trailing vortex through this exciting Web site.

We introduce you to the people involved in the project, take you back in time to the early days of aviation, talk about the science, and help you connect it all to the classroom with a variety of activities.

If you'd like to stay up to date on this project, you may join our mail list. To do so, send an e-mail to: ed-tech-updates-request@quest.arc.nasa.gov

Our team will be interested in receiving your ideas and feedback. Please send any comments to Susan Lee (slee@mail.arc.nasa.gov).

We hope that the Wright Flyer Online will be an interesting and fun learning resource for you and your students and that you will enjoy this adventure in time travel!

See the Wind tunnel data.

What's New?

The Centennial of Flight Commission Website

The Centennial of Flight Commission, created by act of Congress, has just unveiled its Web site with a starting suite of information for aviation enthusiasts, educators, students, and all those who may be planning projects and activities to help the country celebrate the Wright Brothers' first powered flight centennial on and around December 17, 2003. To ensure timeliness, accuracy, and completeness, this site will be updating information continually. The Web address is: http://centennialofflight.gov/

Countdown to Flight Republished

For teachers using the Wright Flyer Lesson Plans,Countdown to Flight in its expanded form will be available on or about September 1, and orders can be logged in advance.

The best way to order is direct from the publishers, to Excel (spelled thusly). Their toll-free order number is 877-823-9235, The ordering department at toExcel is open 8:30-5:00 PST and outside of the US, the phone number is 408-260-3056. They'll take orders starting now and the books will be shipped as soon as they come off the press.

After the middle of August, the book will be entered into the system of the major book distributor, Ingram. After that time, books can be ordered through any bookstore, which will get them from Ingram. Apparently, some school districts have direct accounts with Ingram, so they'll be able to skip the bookstore part, but Ingram doesn't deal directly with individual teachers.

Either way, teachers can plan on having the book for the fall semester and thereafter, so they can make good use of the NASA study guide and start building a lesson plan now.


Daily Wright Flyer Test Logs and Photos!

Lift In was successful!

Last Friday the AIAA and NASA Staff ran a test of the engine on 1903 Wright Flyer Model. They ran the engine up to 1800 rpms, and everything went well.

The sting was mounted in the wind tunnel.

The 1903 Wright Flyer Model was lifted into the 40x80 wind tunnel at 10:00 a.m. on Friday November 19, 1999 and mounted on the sting.

Engine Test to Lift In

The balance for the wind tunnel test has been wired and is being checked out for noise.

The engine will be tested today. What do you think those bicycle chains will sound like? The AIAA members will bring the control panel with them for the test and answer some final questions for the engineers here.

The new sonic sensors for the wind velocity in the tunnel are working very well. The roll stop has been completed.

Don't forget to join us for the Webcast of the lift in on February 19, 1999.

1999 Wright test logo The Wright Flyer Wind Tunnel Test Logo

See the full sized logo.

T minus 3 weeks

Plans are proceeding on schedule to test the Wright Flyer model during the first two weeks in March!

On February 13, the model's engine will be tested. Also during that time, noise measurements will be taken and evaluated for potential effect on data acquisition.

Plans for wiring the sensors are being finalized and the rollstop for the model has been built.

The sting will be moved into the 40' x 80' wind tunnel on February 16th or 17th. Once the sting is installed the balance will be mounted and calibrated on the sting. The wires coming from all the gages in the balance will be braided and sleeved.

Assuming all goes well, the model will be lifted into the test section of the 40x80 wind tunnel on February 19, and prepared for the test. Quest is planning a live Web cast (currently scheduled for 10:00 a.m. that day). More information will be available shortly on the Special Events page at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/events/

Ames is planning a media day on March 3, so be sure to watch the news that day!


1903 Wright Flyer Model Status

Actuators, Dust, Rollstop and the Press

No this is not the latest rock and roll band, it's just some of the test preparations being made!!

Actuators are devices designed to create motion. Last weekend the AIAA Wright Flyer Team came to NASA Ames Research Center to work the actuators that will move the canard, the rudder and make the wings move or twist. These will be controlled remotely in the "Control Room" of the Wind Tunnel using a control panel built by the AIAA members.

Marilyn Ramsey shared this news: "I am not sure it has sunk in as yet, as to how close we are to the test!

On 2/13, we have scheduled our final power test before going into the tunnel. That will be a loooooong day. The last time, I think everyone came in at 8:00 am, and we finally sent out for pizza at about 2:00 p.m.! I think we finished at around 4:30 p.m..

I vacuumed the airplane (for the first time since the trip from Los Angeles) last weekend, and it is white again! I just have to finish up the one side of the top wing. I was kidding with one of the guys. (Picture the airplane wind tunnel test tape playing back on a TV news station. The commentator says, "We are now going to see the Wright Flyer wind tunnel test........ Uhhh, we seem to be experiencing a little fog, and it should be clearing momentarily".......) That's how dusty it was! Turn those fans on and we would have a white out! ;-)"

The rollstop design was finalized and sent to the metals shop to be fabricated. This will prevent the model from rolling too far.

The public affairs office it beginning to plan for a day when the press can come see the Wright Flyer. Look for it on you local news in early March.

Test planning continues

What's Next: At the end of January, the wind tunnel staff will run a test of the Wright Flyer model's engine. If the engine is working well, then the plans to lift the Wright Flyer model into the tunnel will proceed on schedule. Quest will Webcast this "lift-in." Watch for news about this in the near future!

Safety was another topic at the NASA Test Manager's meeting this week. To prepare for the Wright Flyer test, in early February NASA safety engineers will evaluate potential hazards so the wind tunnel staff can take any preventative actions needed.

Then, the first Test Readiness Review (TRR) will be scheduled in mid-February. At the TRR, the engineers check out all aspects of the test, including the equipment, instrumentation, data collection and transfer, and anything else that must be in place before the test can be run.

The engineers discussed options to regulate the airflow speed. One way is to use the normal electrical power supplied by the local company and regulate the airspeed by using the gauge that sets the fan blade revolutions per minute (rpm's). Another way is to use generators in the wind tunnel to regulate the fan blade rpm's by generating a reduced level of power.

Smooth Move for Wright Flyer

Everything went according to plan on the move of the Wright Flyer to the low bay of the NASA Ames 40 by 80 wind tunnel. A great deal of care was taken planning the route, in some places traffic was stopped and parking blocked off. Robert Scott, Site Leader for the National Full Scale Aeronautics Complex said although he had been concerned that low hanging tree branches might be a problem, the truck only had to go around one branch.

The truck driver, Ames employee Paul Fusco, had lots of hauling experience and did a flawless job; the truck moved very slowly to minimize the trauma to the Wright Flyer Model. Pete Zell, NASA Test Manager for the Wright Flyer wind tunnel test, said "It was the perfect day weather-wise!" High winds or rain would have required that the move be postponed.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as Felton Smith the forklift driver slowly lifted the model from the flatbed truck and set it safely down on the floor of the low bay.

AIAA members were thrilled to see that their twenty years of work on this model had brought them that much closer to the wind tunnel test. Members planned to reattach the canard the next day. AIAA members and the NASA test members met following the move to discuss the next steps in planning for the test. Jack Cherne presented a design for a roll stop for the connection between the model and the sting. NASA engineers will now review this design. A safety engineer will also review the test plans in order to ensure the test proceeds safely. We are preparing an archive of the broadcast of the move. It will be linked in at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/adto/wfo.html

Plans for moving the AIAA 1903 Model of the Wright Flyer

This week members of the Wind Tunnel Operations group have been reviewing plans to move the Wright Flyer Model to the low bay of the 40x80 wind tunnel. Special considerations must be made because the model is very light, is not waterproof since it is made of cloth and wood and is very delicate. It is definitely not the usual metal model being transferred.

Currently the move is planned for Friday, December 11, 1998. ADTO and the Learning Technology Channel plan to broadcast the event at 9 AM Pacific. Click here to view the archive of this event.

Test Preparations Continue

Now that the 1903 Wright Flyer Model is off the sting and on the ground, the sting and the power supplies have been moved back to the low bay of the wind tunnel so they will be ready for the test. People will be clearing a space for the Wright Flyer in the low bay of the wind tunnel for the Wright Flyer to sit and be worked on prior to the test.

The model itself will be moved to the wind tunnel on December 11 at 9 a.m. PST. Your Wright Flyer Online team is pulling together a live Webcast of this move with a Quest Chat. Mark your calendars, more information to follow.

Wright Flyer back on the Ground

The Los Angeles American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Wright Flyer Project Team flew up to NASA Ames Research Center on Saturday, November 7, 1998 and together with Ames Staff members they removed their model from the sting.

The Wright Flyer model will be attached to a strong metal pole called a sting in the wind tunnel. The balance which will measure the forces on the airplane will be attached at the end of the sting to the flyer. The balance will sit in a strong metal box which fits between two metal flanges. In September the team had put the flyer up on the sting to test that all these connections fit properly. (See Jack Cherne's journal at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/team/fjournals/cherne/index.html)

After having the weight of the flyer resting on the sting it was difficult to loosen the bolts. Special precautions were taken to insure that the fragile model would not drop from the sting to the forklift. The lowest position of the sting was a few inches higher than the highest position of the forklift. But with the experienced crew these concerns were surmounted, and now the Wright Flyer model is sitting safely on the ground waiting to be moved to the wind tunnel. This move is planned for December 11, 1998, and a special Webcast is planned. Stay tuned for details.

NASA/Wright Flyer wind tunnel test team meets

On October 29, 1998, a meeting was held to discuss recent developments and upcoming plans to prepare the 1903 Wright Flyer replica for the wind tunnel test scheduled for March 1999.

The model is currently up on a sting (as it would be in the wind tunnel test) in Hangar One. It will be dismounted on November 7, 1998, and engineers will then begin instrumentation work.

Wright flyer on the sting

Other information discussed in the meeting included:

  • Plans for a live broadcast when the Flyer replica is moved from Hangar One to the test prep room in the National Full-scale Aerodynamic Complex (December/January)

  • Data acquisition and processing plans

  • Possible early installation in the wind tunnel

Hangar One: http://george.arc.nasa.gov/jf/mfa/facilities.html#Buildings

Project News

Wright Flyer News will be posted in Aerospace Team News!

Project Updates

Wright Flyer updates will be featured in the e-mail messages: Aerospace Team Online Updates and are typically posted two to three times per month. Previous updates are archived here.

Press releases

Pertinent to Wright Flyer Online.


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