Although we arrived early, getting our truck cleared through base security took longer than we were told to expect.  In the background is the hangar that serves as "Home of the Thunderbirds"

Once our truck did show up, we eagerly introduced our airplane to the members of the 57th Wing who volunteered to help us.  The sky threatened rain all day, but held off until we were safely inside the hangar, mirroring what occured when packing up in Los Angeles.

As can be seen from the picture on the left, there isn't much space to spare inside of our semi-trailer.  Adolfo Ibarra has crawled through one of the side doors and underneath the wing center box to retreive the cases carrying our display panels.  As Adolfo fishes them out, the airmen and women carry them inside.

We started the tour with not a little trepidation.   We can't sent the entire Wright Flyer Project team to assemble and watch over our replica at each tour stop; we must rely on local volunteers to help us.  We are grateful that the volunteers at our first stop were men and women who care for airplanes as a profession.  Our thanks to the men and women of the 57th Wing at Nellis AFB.

These picutres demonstrate how we unload (and load) our airplane in the semi-trailer:  we only pull the wing box far enough to put it on the forklift (see the picture above), then the semi pulls away.

Then, the fork takes us into the hangar...


And finally the rudder and canard structures are unloaded.

This picture is beautiful!  Framed by the delecate wood, fabric, and wires of the Flyer wing box are a KC-10 Extender tanker/transport, derived from the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and the F-16 Falcon fighter.  An interesting comparison between the F-16 and 1903 Wright Flyer: both airplanes are unstable in pitch.  The Wright Brothers arrived at an unstable design because they chose a camber for their wing airfoil for best performance and then sought to balance the resulting pitching moment, unaware of the implications to the pitch dynamics of the airplane.  The Wrights were able to fly their unstable airplane because the speeds were so low that human reaction times were quick enough to compensate.  However, as the technology of flight progressed and airspeeds increased, evenutally all airplanes had to be designed to be inherently stable.  This design dictum lasted until the mid-1970's, when designers of the F-16 decided that computer speeds had increased to the point that they could again design an unstable airplane, only this time a machine was compensating for the airplane dynamics instead of the pilot.  Still, the 1903 Flyer is roughly three times more unstable as the F-16.

 Copyright © 2002, AIAA Wright Flyer Project, all rights reserved.

Back to Tour Page