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Replica of Wright 1903 Aircraft

An image of NASA Scientists and Engineers.

The scientists and engineers of tomorrow are working to retrace the steps of the Wright Brothers. A scale replica of the Wright’s 1903 aircraft has been built at the Orono Middle School of Orono, Maine. The model aircraft was sent to the International Space Station in the spring of 2003 where it was used by the Expedition 7 crew of Yuri Malenchenko and Ed Lu in several educational broadcasts.

In 2003, the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright Brothers’ airplane. In reality, the 1903 was only one of a succession of unpowered and powered aircraft leading to the first, practical, piloted, heavier-than-air flying machine, the 1905 Flyer. The four flights of December 17, 1903 were the first flights of this class of aircraft and, though the 1903 Flyer itself was unstable in pitch, it marked an important milestone in man’s conquest of the air.

Photo of the 1903 Wright aircraft
Photograph of the 1903 of the aircraft in flight.

During the fall of 2002 and winter of 2003, science students at Orono Middle School built a small scale model of the Wright’s 1903 aircraft. Led by their teacher, Richard Glueck, the students studied drawings and photographs of the original aircraft, developed scale plans, shaped the wing ribs, struts, control surfaces, and propellers and performed the final construction of the model. The students had previously built a full scale model of the 1900 kite, and a half scale model of the 1902 glider which are now at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

Photo of students working on the Orono replica
Students cutting the ribs.
Photo of student working on the Orono replica
A student sanding the main spar.
Photo of partially constructed Orono replica
The aircraft is nearly finished as shown in this photo.
Photo of partially constructed Orono replica
The finished aircraft.

In June, 2003, the finished aircraft was sent to the International Space Station on board a Progress re-supply ship. The model was used in several educational broadcasts from the ISS during the summer and fall of 2003. The picture at the top of the page shows the aircraft floating in front of Ed Lu on board the ISS.

Photo of Orono students
The students who built the 1903 replica.
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