There was quite a sight today (June 18, 2018) in Raleigh, NC, at the NC Museum of History as the 1903 Wright Flyer moved out and the 1902 Wright Glider moved into the museum.
The museum graciously hosted and displayed the 1903 Wright Flyer from the Wright Brothers National Memorial (under renovations)/National Park Service (NPS). This Flyer reproduction was commissioned by the late Harry Combs and gifted to the WBNM for the 2003 Centennial of First Flight, The Event of the Century.
Installing a 605 lb Wright Flyer reproduction ($1.3 million gift) is no simple feat. Structural engineering and special equipment installation was required. A grant of $33,000 from the First Flight Foundation covered the expenses for the installation and display.
The Flyer will now receive conservation work and cleaning by the Wright Experience; the builder of the machine. Once work is complete the Flyer will return to the visitor center at WBNM for its fall 2018 reopening.
The 1902 Wright Glider arrived today after much needed conservation work performed by the National Park Service Harpers Ferry Division. It will be on extended/indefinite loan by NPS to the NC Museum of History as the renovations and exhibit lay-out of the WBNM visitor center do not accommodate both Wright machines. The 1902 glider will hang in the air space vacated by the 1903 Flyer in the museum’s lobby/atrium.
This 1902 Wright Glider was built by the shops at Wright-Patterson using Orville Wright’s drawings- to replace a 1902 that Orville helped the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) constructed in the 1930s. This 1902 reproduction was the USAAF‘s contribution to WBNM when the visitor center opened. Additionally, the 1902 glider is entirely a Kill Devil Hills/North Carolina aircraft. It only flew in Kill Devil Hills. Moreover, it was the key step in the development of the 1903 airplane. The Wrights patented their control system shown on the glider, not the powered aircraft. The story of the glider trials, 1900-1903 is the most important story the NPS tells at WBNM. The basic problems were solved with the 1902 glider. Dec. 17th and the powered flight was the culmination of years of development. Notes provided by Dr. Tom Crouch, The Smithsonian/National Air & Space.