Wright Bros. Great-Grandniece On Hand At 'Silver Bird'
The newest addition to Wright "B" Flyer Inc.'s fleet of historic
lookalike aircraft made its public debut Tuesday at the National
Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA's) 61st Annual Meeting
& Convention in Orlando, FL.
Amanda Wright Lane -- great-grandniece of aviation pioneers
Orville and Wilbur Wright, and trustee of Wright "B" Flyer, Inc. --
was on hand to talk about the new flyer dubbed the "Silver Bird,"
nicknamed for its metal skeleton. The roughly 7/8-scale aircraft
will be on static display inside the Orange County Convention
Center for the duration of this year's show.
"This was the plane that really introduced the country to
aviation," Wright Lane said. "It not only circled the Statue of
Liberty, but was flown at air shows across the country and gave
people their first glimpse of what was possible with aviation."
In all, 33 volunteers -- ranging from ages 11 into their 90s --
helped to build the Silver Bird for over a year. "They want other
generations to understand the love of flying, and they spend hours
each day on the flyer to hopefully pass that thrill on to the next
generation," Wright Lane said.
NBAA contributed to the shipping costs, and provided floor space
for the Dayton, OH nonprofit to display the Silver Bird inside the
Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the airplane in their West
Dayton bicycle shop at the turn of the 20th Century and formed the
Wright Company in 1909 to produce military and civilian airplanes.
The "B" model was the first one they produced in quantity, with
more than 100 built from 1910 on.
The Silver Bird is a flyable airplane that can be shipped
anywhere in the world for exhibitions. It is expected to make its
first test flight in early 2009.
Having a replica of one of the first aircraft ever on the NBAA
show floor -- an event known more of its multi-million dollar
bizjets, than attempts to appeal to grassroots aviation -- isn't as
incongruous as it may seem at first glance.
Wright Lane notes the plane won an early design competition for
the US Army Signal Corps, to provide an aircraft suitable for pilot
training and reconnaissance. That competition, among other
requirements, called for the aircraft to fly at least 40 mph, and
be able to "land safely."
The Model B was later flown at a series of exhibitions across
the country, in part to attract buyers for the design. One only
need look across the NBAA show floor to see that legacy remains
alive and well.