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Special Collections & Archives

Replica of 1903 Flyer Construction Photos

National Composite Center Worksite

National Composite Research Corporation, located on the former Defense Electronics Supply Center grounds, donated space for the construction of the 1903 Flyer replica.

Volunteers working on wing spars

The original 1903 Flyer was built of spruce, which is no longer available in the quantities needed. In its place, basswood was selected for its straight grain in order to resist warping.

Volunteer using sewing machine

Wing surfaces were covered in Pride of West muslin. The rolls of muslin were 43 inches wide with a thread count of 200 per square inch.

Volunteers coving wing with fabric

Each of the core volunteers brought a solid engineering, woodworking, or aeronautics background to the project. The group worked to maintain the measurement and angles from the original blueprints.

Volunteer working on propeller

The propellers, constructed and donated by Hartzell Propeller in Piqua, Ohio were fashioned from pieces of poplar approximately 8 feet in length.

Volunteer hand sewing

Over 8,000 stitches were hand sewn by the volunteers. Howard DuFour Project Director, remarked, "It's amazing how much those boys depended on the cloth to hold the plane together."

volunteers working on flyer

The accuracy of construction or tolerances are .010± of an inch. The specifications of the 1903 Flyer replica match those of the original, with the exception of the overall weight of the machine. The replica weighs 550 lbs. due to the difference in weight of the engine and its auxiliary parts.

replica engine

Charley Taylor, the Wrights' mechanician, built the engine for the original flyer. Using drawings for the original engine, a replica was made to the exact specifications except for the materials used. Fully assembled it weighs approximately 70 lbs., about half the weight of the original.

1903 Flyer replica

The replica of the 1903 Flyer that graces the atrium of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library celebrates the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers, who first achieved controlled powered flight on December 17, 1903.

Volunteers at dedication ceremony

The Wright 1903 Flyer replica is dedicated to Wilkinson "Wick" Wright, 1922-1999, great nephew of the Wright Brothers and generous friend and supporter of the Wright State University Libraries. It is also a tribute to the volunteers who donated their skills and nearly 4,500 hours of time to create the Flyer and encourage the spirit of invention in each of us.