Exactly 100 years after the Wright Brothers made history at Kitty Hawk, N.C., a group of 20 mechanical and aerospace engineering students from West Virginia University will relive that immortal flight at the First Flight Centennial Celebration.
A group called the”Wright Experience”was commissioned by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) to construct and fly an exact reproduction of the Wright 1903 Flyer aircraft at 10:35 a.m. on Dec. 17, the centennial anniversary, at Kitty Hawk.
Assistant professor Wade Huebsch and professor John Kuhlman from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will accompany the WVU groupmostly undergraduate and a few graduate aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering majorsto North Carolina, where the new flyer will take flight before tens-of-thousands on hand.
The original powered glider weighed in at just over 600 pounds including its 179-pound, 12 horsepower engine and had a wingspan of 40 feet and four inches. To ensure the authenticity of the 1903 Wright Flyer reproduction, Ford Motor Company provided technological expertise for the engine and many other groups helped with various other aspects of the development of the aircraft.
Although Orville Wright’s initial ascent only lasted about 12 seconds and spanned an estimated 120 feet, it was one for the history books.
“All of the students, Dr. Huebsch and I are all very excited about being able to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event. We are grateful to the EAA for helping us to be able to attend,”said Kuhlman. The flight is part of a six-day centennial celebration of a century of powered flight. Actor and licensed jet pilot, John Travolta, will also fly his Boeing 707 on the final day as part of a ceremonial fly-over.
The students traveling to the Wright Brothers’National Memorial site are members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and/or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). These two groups have been holding joint fundraisers during the fall semester to raise money to cover their travel expenses.
“After hearing about the re-enactment, I thought it would be an opportunity to witness history in the making,”said engineering student Peter Cooke.”Powered flight is a milestone in human achievement and to witness its re-creation would be a rewarding experience.”
The students who will be participating are Gerald Angle, Morgantown; Eric Bartlett, Bridgeport; Jonathan Breckenridge, Belle Vernon, Pa.; Peter Cooke, Charleston; Emily Currie, Mountaintop, Pa.; Emily Everly, Morgantown; Shannon Glaspell, Grafton; Jennifer Hazleton, New Cumberland, W. Va.; Andrea Holladay, Burton; Raven Honsaker, Martinsburg; ASME President Heather Johnson, Cumberland, Md.; Tom Knell, Holmdel, N.J.; Venkitaraman Krishnan, Yonkers, N.Y.; Eric Legg, Red House; Kenny Marn, Sistersville; Jonathan Osborne, Pt. Pleasant; Karen Peyatt, Bridgeport; Lucas Roselius, Charles Town; AIAA President Justin Smith, Parkersburg; and Nicole Vaccaro, Belle Vernon, Pa.