The 1903 Wright Flyer Flies Again

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Kitty Hawk 2003 Celebration Events

The reproduction 1903 Wright Flyer lifted off the ground about 1 p.m. on November 20, 2003. It marked the first time in 100 years that a Wright Flyer was successfully flown and landed without damage using an authentic engine.

Paul Hyde’s group, the Wright Experience, had been waiting for good flying weather for two weeks at the Wright Memorial to attempt a flight in anticipation of performing on December 17th for the Wright Brothers Centennial.

Kevin Kochersberger, 42, one of the two pilots selected to fly the machine, flew 97 feet into a 15-18 mile headwind out of the Northeast. It was a straight-line flight five feet off the ground, ending in a soft landing with no damage. The total flight consumed 5 seconds.

Orville’s first flight traveled 120 feet in 12 seconds. He had a headwind of 27-mph.

Ken Hide, Pilot Kochersberger, Terry Queijo who is the other pilot, and the entire crew were jubilant at their success. Some were even in tears. A number of naysayers had predicted their Flyer would never fly.

The two pilots hope to each test-fly the Flyer four times prior to Dec. 17th. Kochersberrger wore a white helmet and a safety harness as a precaution.

They had originally planned to do their test flying in a secret location near Hatteras, but hurricane Isabel put an end to that. As an alternate they are using the Wright Brothers Memorial park. They hope that they will be able to do most of their flying in the morning before the park opens.

For this grand occasion there were a number of visitors in the park who were allowed to watch from a distance. They were not allowed to take any pictures of the machine in flight.

Hyde was reported to have said that “the Flyer did pretty much what we expected. Its performance matched Wilbur’s notes. We couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”

Hyde’s Flyer is the only machine of many that are flying in honor of the Centennial that closely conforms to the Wright’s original design. Now that they know that it can fly, the next big hurdle will be the weather on the 17th. Everyone should pray for a wind of at least 15-mph on that day.

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