Brown Bird Wright Model B Flyer Replica
By Willie Bodenstein
The Wright Model B had its first flight in 1910. It was the first airplane the Wrights produced in quantity and it was the first U.S. airplane produced under license. More than 100 were built.
Based on the Wright Flyer, the Model B differed by having a tail-mounted elevator, the addition of wheels in the place of skids and the elimination of the canards and the front elevator/rudder. In 1917, the US Army bought two Model Bs for use in the Signal Corps. One was modified by the addition of ailerons on the trailing edge of the wing eliminating the wing warping system as well the replacement of the Wright four cylinders by a much more powerful eight cylinder Rausenberger engine.
Over the years a number of replicas of Wright Flyers have been built, all of them using construction materials closely based on the original models. In 1973, a group of volunteers based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base decided to build a flyable lookalike of the Model B Flyer using modern materials and construction techniques that would meet modern airworthiness standards.
A non-profit corporation, Wright 'B' Flyer Inc. was formed. The aim of the corporation was to promote Dayton's aviation heritage by flying and display lookalikes of Wright Model B airplanes. Based at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Ohio. its hangar-museum is open to the public at no charge from 09h00 to 14h30 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The project was launched in 1975. However, no detailed drawings for the Model B existed, but fortunately a highly modified example was on display in the Air Force Museum and detailed construction drawings of this were made. Nicknamed Brown Bird she began flying in 1982. She is a robust aircraft with a steel structure and a modern aircraft engine. Her empty weight is 3,400 lbs., compared with the 1,400 pound loaded weight of the machine on which she is based.
Brown Bird is available for fly-overs and static displays at public and private events. Honorary Aviator members are eligible for a free orientation flight. In 2015 at Oshkosh, which is the world's largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts, F-22s and F-35s wooed the crowds. However, the Brown Bird was there to remind us all as to where aviation began more than a century ago.
Crew: pilot/ co-pilot or pilot/ observer
Power plant: Lycoming HIO-360 F1AD, 225 horsepower, turbo charged, air cooled, 100 octane fuel
Propellers: Sensenich Blades; 97 inch diameter, 1700 RPM, counter rotating, made from Maple
Wing span: 38 feet, 6 inches
Height: 10 feet, 8 inches
Length: 31 feet, 11 inches
Weight: 3400 pounds
Take-off: 41 MPH
Cruise: 60 MPH
Endurance: 2 hours
Range: 100 miles
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