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Chapter-built Wright Flyer Model B Arrives at EAA Museum

EAA 610 donates flying copy of an early Wright design

By Fareed Guyot, Manager – Electronic Publications, EAA 388642

Wright Flyer Model B
Members of EAA Chapter 610 and EAA AirVenture Museum staff prepare to start up the engine on the Wright Flyer Model B that was donated to EAA by the chapter. Photo by Jim Koepnick.

Wright Flyer Model B
The twin propellers on the aircraft are turned using chain drives. This replica is powered by Model A Ford engine, as an original Wright engine was not available. Photo by Steve Cukierski.

Wright Flyer Model B
EAA’s Wright Flyer Model B N1911L in the Vette Hangar at Pioneer Airport where it will be displayed along with the Bleriot and other early age of flight aircraft. Photo by Jim Koepnick.

May 12, 2011 — At EAA headquarters this week, a flying copy of the a 1911 Wright Flyer Model B arrived, donated by EAA Chapter 610, New Carlisle, Ohio, which built the aircraft over a four-year span, beginning in 2001. The aircraft stays true to the original save for some safety improvements in the flight controls, an engine from a Model A Ford, and a larger radiator, which only added 80 pounds to the original design. The aircraft will be on display during AirVenture at Pioneer Airport. Copies of two other historic Wright designs will also be at the event - a 1910 Wright Model R Vin Fiz and a, celebrating 100 years of soaring flight, a 1911 Wright Glider. These will be displayed in the Federal Pavilion.

The Model B was the first Wright-designed aircraft with wheels and the first to be licensed for production. A total of 19 chapter members participated in the construction, with many constructing parts in their own homes.  Making the trip from Ohio to deliver the plane to Pioneer Airport was Dick Alkire, Randy Barney, Jim Hocker, and Don Stroud. Dick worked on the engine and skids, Jim built the seats, and Don flew the plane on the two flights it has made so far. The airplane first flew in October 2005 with several short hops up and down the runway at New Carlisle Airport in Ohio.

“It went very well. It handled beautifully. Much better than I expected. It was a thrill to get it off the ground,” Stroud said.

“It was a much anticipated flight; I had to be talked into doing it,” he said with a laugh.

A year later they would fly the aircraft again at a nearby airport in an attempt to get it to a higher altitude and make some turns.  During that flight, Stroud was able to climb up and make three circuits around the field during the six-minute flight.

The project had its beginnings when Alkire and two others were asked by the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to restore the only remaining original Wright B Flyer. The aircraft was brought to New Carlisle and the chapter got permission to copy the parts while they were completing the restoration. Because it’s a flying replica, the aircraft has the N number 1911L and its airworthiness, according to Jim Hocker, was the source of some competition between Cincinnati and Dayton FSDOs for the final inspection.

“We called the normal office in Cincinnati that we use for homebuilts and the Dayton office got wind of it and said, ‘No you guys aren’t doing it, we are,’” Hocker said. “So they came out and grinned at it.” Alkire added that Dayton termed the inspection a training exercise and brought out six inspectors to look over the aircraft.

When it came time to find a permanent home for the aircraft EAA 610 had originally approached the Green County, Ohio, Historical Society since that is where Huffman Prairie is located - an area where future aviation pioneers like Hap Arnold and Eddie Stinson learned to fly through the Wright Flying School. The GCHS did not have room for the aircraft and the natural kinship with EAA made the donation to the museum a logical choice.

EAA AirVenture Museum Director Alan Westby is excited to receive 1911L as it will join other early aircraft replicas on display. “It will eventually be housed in the Vette Hangar, which will be really nice since the Bleriot is housed in there as well,” Westby said. “We’re really hoping that when you walk through that front door you see the earliest flyers that there were and will be a really impressive entrance to Pioneer Airport.”

The members of EAA 610 are excited to share their project with EAA members and those who attend AirVenture and visit year-round. “We’re excited to have it here at Oshkosh” Alkire said. “You can see it’s been flown. It’s got some bugs on it, some oil on it, some stains - it’s been around.”

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