News & Updates for the Wright Flyer Project

Jack Cherne

August 16, 1921 - March 2, 2004

Jack Cherne in happier times

The AIAA Wright Flyer Project is sad to announce that Jack Cherne, Project Chairman, has passed away.

Jack Cherne lead a volunteer team of several dozen aerospace professionals who have spent hundreds of weekends since 1980 building the AIAA 1903 Wright Flyer, two authentic replicas of the first airplane to achieve sustained, powered flight. An engineer who specialized in aircraft design and construction, Cherne worked in the aerospace industry since World War II, when he helped design the Mars Flying Boat and the Northrop XB-35 flying wing. In the decades since, he has worked on projects as disparate as helicopters, guided missiles, and, beginning in the early 1960s, spacecraft and satellites. At TRW (formerly Space Technology Laboratories), he headed the team that built the engines that allowed men to descend to the surface of the moon.

In addition to his involvement with the AIAA Wright Flyer, Cherne continued to work full-time for TRW in areas such as launch facilities for Air Force satellites and vehicles for nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance.

Cherne was a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the group sponsoring the AIAA 1903 Wright Flyer, since 1941. He became an AIAA Fellow in 2004. Fellows are persons of distinction in aeronautics or astronautics who have made notable and valuable contributions to the art, science, or technology of aerospace. One fellow for every 1,000 voting members is elected each year.

Cherne and the Wright Flyer Team celebrated the Centennial of Flight at the Regional Office of the Federal Aviation Administration with their Wright Flyer airplane. The airplane had just returned to it's home at the FAA Flight Deck after a fifteen month National Tour reaching over four million people. At the ceremonies, Jack received the honorary "Charles Taylor/Aviation Mechanics Award". This award is only given to special recipients with at least fifty years of service in the aeronautics/astronautics field.

Although Jack developed serious health problems during the past year, he continued to pursue his dream of flight. He chaired our Saturday meetings at the Wright Flyer Project at Microcosm in El Segundo, CA where the flightworthy replica is currently being constructed. In February, he was no longer able to continue and passed the torch to Co-Chairman Howard Marx. Jack passed away on March 2, 2004.

His dream will not die. The Wright Flyer Team plans to complete the "Jack Cherne Memorial Wright Flyer" and will fly it in his honor.

Group Photo: June 2001

Full scale 1903 Wright Flyer Replica shown at its new home in the FAA Flight Deck Museum, with the project volunteers and guests from the AIAA National Office.

April 1, 2006
The AIAA Wright Flyer Project participates in the 14TH ANNUAL RIVERSIDE AIRSHOW!
On April 1st, 2006, the Riverside Airport opened its doors free to the public for its 14th Annual Airshow. Details of the AIAA Wright Flyer Project's participation to follow.

November 27, 2005
The AIAA Wright Flyer Project sadly notes the passage of Chuck Thomas - long time member and photographer.
Mr. Charles Franklin Thomas was born on February 9, 1913, in Atlantic City, New Jersey,
and passed peacefully in his sleep November 27, 2005, in Carmel, California.

Godspeed Chuck...

June 18, 2003
New Pictures of the First Replica Assembly and Wind Tunnel Test
In February and March of 1999, the AIAA became the first group to wind tunnel test a full-scale 1903 Wright Flyer. It was a long path, and required us to significantly modify our original plans. As much of our work predated the internet and digital photos, we are slowly reviewing our paper archives and digitizing the information for posting on the web. Here are several photos showing what we had to accomplish to successfully test in the NASA Ames wind tunnels.

June 1, 2003
NASA Ames Research Center closes its historic wind tunnels
The 40' x 80' wind tunnel, in which the AIAA Wright Flyer was tested in March 1999, was closed recently due to budget constraints. Thank you NASA for helping test our airplane.

May 20, 2003
Hitting the floor at the Festival of Flight, Fayetteville, NC
We've moved our first full scale replica again. If you are in the area, please plan to visit us at the Exposition Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina, from now until May 26th.

May 18, 2003
Tickets to the FIRST FLIGHT CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION on sale by the National Park Service
From the website:
Visitor access to Wright Brothers National Memorial during the five-day First Flight Centennial Celebration is limited to those holding tickets (including children under 12 who are not charged). Visitors must purchase tickets prior to their arrival at the park. No drugs, alcohol, or weapons are allowed on site. All visitors will pass through security screening and are encouraged not to leave the site once they have done so. All persons and all items brought to the site are subject to inspection. Coolers are prohibited. Food and drink vendors will be available on site. Information on the First Flight Centennial Celebration, including the events calendar, safety requirements, security restrictions, available vendors, and transportation can be obtained by going to Please check the saftey information and security restrictions prior to your arrival.

March 8, 2003
More Notes from the Road
Long time team member Gary Moir has written a wonderful piece about his trip from the New England Air Museum to the Kennedy Space Center, stopping at Kill Devils Hill along the way.

March 1, 2003
Press Release: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Celebrates Evolution of Flight with 1903 Wright Flyer Replica and Space Station Traveling Exhibits
A Press Release from Kennedy Space Center is available discussing our March through May visit to Florida.

February 22, 2003
AIAA Wright Flyer subject of student news story
While visiting the New England Air Museum, the AIAA Wright Flyer was the subject of a news story produced and conducted by students at Capt. Nathan Hale Middle School in Coventry, CT. They have provided a copy of their story for re-broadcast on our website.

February 20, 2003
Preparing for a visit to Kennedy Space Center
As part of the year long Centennial Tour, the AIAA Wright Flyer Project is gearing up to move our first replica, the aircraft tested in the NASA Ames Wind Tunnel, to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You may visit our Flyer here from March to early May.

February 6, 2003
NHK produces a documentary on the Wright Brothers
The Japanese national television network NHK visited the AIAA Wright Flyer Project nearly one year ago to obtain footage to support a documentary program geared toward junior high school students. That program is now finished, and this website is an overview of the program in Japanese. An English translation has been provided
Thank you to Ms. Tomoko Kawasumi of the Washington International Business Venture for acting as liaison during this effort.
The Japanese pages render properly under the Macintosh OS X operating system. Under Microsoft Windows, the user will have to manually change their character encoding in their chosen web browser to view the Kanji characters

January 29, 2003
The Wright Brothers and the Invention of Aeronautical Engineering
Historian Peter L. Jakab will discuss "The Wright Brothers and the Invention of Aeronautical Engineering" Jan. 29, 2003. The third in NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's Centennial of Flight Colloquium Series will take place at the Park Plaza Hotel, 44916 10th Street West, Lancaster, CA. The event will begin with a reception and book signing at 6 p.m., followed by Jakab's presentation at 7:30. Cost of the event is $10. Additional information is available by calling (661) 942-9574.

December 29, 2002
Our Centennial Tour Kickoff Video is available for download
The video produced by the AIAA and the Wright Flyer Project to promote the kickoff of our year long Centennial Tour is now avaible for download in Quicktime format.

December 28, 2002 e-mail being hijacked!
On Saturday, December 28, the Webmaster began to receive a number of bounced e-mails purportedly sent from this site advertising a private business venture. Please be assured that neither Liquid2D, the site mentioned in the e-mails, nor are affiliated with the products advertised in any way. The e-mails are the result of an attack by a group calling itself the 'asian WAREZ crackers', and complaints have been lodged with the FBI regarding this group's activities.

December 17, 2002
Wright Flyer Project Members Participate in the Centennial of Flight Kick-off Ceremony
Hosted by the National Centennial of Flight Commission, the event honored such luminaries in Aerospace as former astronauts Dr. Neil Armstrong and Sen. John Glenn, decentants of the Wright Brothers' family (neither of the brothers ever married), Charles Lindberg, and of Henry Ford, whose support for early flight was overshadowed by his success in the automotive field.

December 17, 2002
C-SPAN Covers the Centennial of Flight Celebration at the National Air & Space Museum
On Tuesday, Dec 17, 2002, the 99th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' history making flight, the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission held a press conference at the NASM to highlight the activities planned in the coming year to celebrate the Wright Brother's achievements. Video coverage is provided by C-SPAN on a rotating basis both on broadcast and webcast video.

December 17, 2002
Wright Brothers Day, 2002
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

December 15, 2002
Encore Café produces second episode on Wright Flyer
Encore Café, a TV show produced by volunteers on the television station KPAS Channel 55, Pasadena, is currently airing a second show on the AIAA Wright Flyer Project. For a schedule of showtimes, click here. Streaming requires the Windows Media Player, and apparently is concurrent with the broadcast edition. Click here to see the Pasadna Community Network website.

December 13, 2002
The Wright Idea, an original play at the New England Air Museum
The New England Air Museum, in collaboration with Alison Moncrief, will be presenting an original play on the Wright Brothers on Sunday afternoons while the AIAA Wright Flyer is on exhibit at the museum. Click through to see a schedule of events.

December 7, 2002
More Centennial Tour Pictures!
More pictures and movies are being posted as they become available. Specifically, new pages showing the arrivals at Nellis AFB and at the New England Air Museum and a new web movie showing the disassembly of the rudder as we set off on our Centennial Tour.

November 16, 2002
All that is old is new again! - by Jim Mills, DFRC NASA
Hello fellow wing warping fans. Thought I would let you know that yesterday, Nov.15,2002, the Active Aeroelastic Wing full scale aircraft flew for over an hour, our first flight. The flight was a complete success. Only two minor faults were found, both unrelated to the test and both extremely minor. We expect to fly again on Tuesday. Go to for the whole story.

November 2, 2002
The Wright Flyer lands in New England
The AIAA Wright Flyer Replica arrived safely at the New England Air Museum in Windor Locks, Connecticut. Read about this and other stops on our nationwide tour.

October 20, 2002
Want to see what's new with the Wright Flyer?
With the wind tunnel replica Flyer on a nationwide tour, much of the work on the second replica has been done lately in member's homes as time permits. Still, we meet every Saturday morning to work on common issues. We make photo essay pages of o ur meetings available on our Future Plans page.

October 6, 2002
Celebrating Our Nations Finest
On October 5th and 6th, the AIAA Wright Flyer Wind Tunnel Replica was hosted by the 57th Wing at Nellis AFB during the Open House there. To the men and women of the USAF who made us so welcome, we thank you.

September 28, 2002
Load 'Em Up!
Photos of the AIAA Wright Flyer Team loading the first Flyer replica for the nationwide Centennial Tour. We will have more pictures shortly, and some movies available with a few weeks.

September 27, 2002
Kick-off of the Wright Flyer Centennial Tour!
We began our tour with ceremonies at the current home of our first aircraft, the FAA Flight Deck museum in Lawndale, CA, on Thursday, Sept 26. We apologize for being unable to provide a webcast of the event, but soon we should have digital movies available for download. Please check back for updates.
Press Release - Media Kit.

September 25, 2002
Notes from the Road
During our tour, we will be posting updates, essays, photos, and journals from each tour stop. The first such entry can now be found as a link from our Tour Page

September 22, 2002
Preparing for the Kick-off of the Wright Flyer Centennial Tour
We begin our tour with ceremonies at the current home of our first aircraft, the FAA Flight Deck museum in Lawndale, CA, on Thursday, Sept 26. We are working to provide a live webcast of the event. If this is not possible, we will still be able to make video of the event available shortly therafter. Please check for updates.

September 5, 2002
Nellis Air Force Base to host the first stop of the Wright Flyer Centennial Tour
After kicking off the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautic s 1903 Wright Flyer Centenni al Tour and Exposition in Lawndale, Calif., Sept. 26, the Wright Flyer repli ca will be transported to Nellis Air Force Base where it will be on public displ ay during the base's Aviation Nation Air Show Oct. 5-6.

August 17, 2002
Happy Birthday Jack!
We celebrate the birthday of our project chairman, Jack Cherne.

August 17, 2002
Movies! Movies! Movies!
The webmaster finally upgraded his six year old computer. As a result, five new movies of the Radio Controlled Model are available, as well as one movie showing the group hard at work on a typical Saturday meeting and another showing the details of the 1/8 scale steel wind tunnel model that was tested years ago.

July 17, 2002
The story of the Wright Flyer Project, in Dutch!
On July 17th, a story on the AIAA Wright Flyer Project was published by Dutch magazine "Terdege". The story is reprinted here with permission. An English Summary is available here.

July 13, 2002
A Visit from NHK
The AIAA Wright Flyer Project was recently visited by a film crew from NHK, the national public broadcasting system in Japan. NHK is producing three twenty minute films on the Wright Brothers and the path to the first flight to spark interest in science and technology among junior high school students. These films will be shown in the Japanese school systems during January, 2003.

June 26, 2002
Testing the Choo-Choo
NASA engineer Tom Heglund was one a newly minted engineer for a major aerospace company. One of his first assignments was to build and test our 1/8th scale Wright Flyer model in the company wind tunnel. Tom has composed a short essay of his experiences running his first wind tunnel program.

April 28, 2002
First Video of the R/C Model
The first 30 seconds of video of the radio controlled model on the test stand exercising the wing warping mechanism is now available!

March 30, 2002
Wind Tunnel Testing Pages Revised
The pages on Wind Tunnel Testing have been redesigned to make navigation easier, and some new pages on the sub-scale wind tunnel tests and full-scale structural tests have been added.

AIAA Wright Flyer Team members are honored guests at the rollout ceremony for the Active Aeroelastic Wing flight test vehicle at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility.

March 27, 2002
The AIAA Wright Flyer Team particpates in rollout ceremonies of the Active Aeroelastic Wing
On Wednesday, March 27, 2002, members of the AIAA Wright Flyer Team were invited to particpate in the rollout ceremony of the Active Aeroelastic Wing flight test vehicle at NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility. This airplane, a modern day F/A-18 fighter jet, has been modified to explore the benefits of using wing warping as a control effector at transonic speeds.

March 15, 2002
New Tour Stops Posted!
The AIAA has just announced new stops for the AIAA Wright Flyer Centennial Tour. See our Future Plans page for details.

Laid out for display are the lower left and center wing sections without the cotton fabric covering. This view gives an indication as the the numerous and intricate ribs that make up the wing.
New Wing

February 9, 2002
The AIAA Evolution of Flight Program is producing a video to promote the Project!
On Februrary 9, 2002, Merrie Scott and Kim Grant of the AIAA Evolution of Flight program visited our Project with a film crew to document our work. The video will premiere at the AIAA Awards Night Dinner in late April, 2002, to thank the sponsors of both AIAA and the Wright Flyer Project, and to promote the Wright Flyer Centennial Tour. Soon thereafter, an electronic version will be availalbe for download.

On Thursday, Feb 7th, we ran our current engine on the test stand at the Revmaster Corp. Shown here (left to right) are Jim Mendrala, Don Huseman, Dick Morgan, Rich Grimm, Gary Moir, and "Mister Revmaster" Joe Horvath.
Engine Tests

February 7, 2002
New Paper Posted
A new technical paper, The Wright Brothers: The First Aeronautical Engineers and Test Pilots, has been posted in our Project Library and is available for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

January 25, 2002
Second Photo Essay Published
From time to time, we will be posting brief photo essays to document the progress of our second full-scale replica. You are invited to browse our first and second sets of picutres and keep your eye on our "Future Plans" page for additional pictures as they become available.

December 17, 2001
Wright Flyer Replica May Test Wings at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Engineers from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) are talking with their counterparts at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center about flying a replica of the Wright Brothers' first airplane at Dryden's facility on Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert.

November, 2001
Project Member Publishes Book on Wright Brothers
On Great White Wings: The Wright Brothers and the Race for Flight
Critics Review From The Library Journal
The airplane, the first great invention of the 20th century, will be 100 years old in 2003. Through meticulous and methodical research, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright solved three major interrelated problems of flight the wing design, propulsion, and stability to achieve controlled powered flight in 1903. In a thrilling, very readable book, with over 200 photographs and illustrations, they show how the brothers designed the Flyer and improved on subsequent models, competed with other aviators, and pursued legal battles over patent rights to certain designs.

September, 2001
Explanation of Broken Links
Due to the events of September 11th, all Public NASA Ames web sites have to go through an approval process to release information to the outside world, even those that were publicly available prior to the tragedy. Thus, many of the links in our pages may be temporarily unavailable until NASA re-clears the information for general dissemination.

September, 2001
New search engine being implemented
We are in the process of adding a search engine to the site. Please let us know if you experiment and find a bug.

September, 2001 has moved! has moved to a new server as of September, 2001. The change should be transparent to the internet community, but if you experience a glitch, please contact the webmaster to correct the error.

September, 2001 suffers Denial of Service Attack was the target of a Denial of Service (DoS) attack from September 13th to September 19th, 2001, prompting an acceleration of plans to move to a new server. We regret the inconvenience.

July 16, 2001
Project Chairman Jack Cherne interviewed on KNBC - NBC 4, Los Angeles
On Monday July 16, 2001, Project Chairman Jack Cherne was interviewed live on local NBC affiliate KNBC, channel 4.

June 2, 2001
AIAA Evolution of Flight Officers visit the Wright Flyer
On June 2, 2001, Merrie Scott and Kim Grant of the AIAA Evolution of Flight program visited the LA workshop of the Wright Flyer Project. Kim and Merrie were treated to a tour of the workshop, after which discussions were held to begin planning for the upcoming tour of the 1903 Flyer Replica.

NASA's Quicktime Interactive View of the Wright Flyer
NASA Ames has an interactive 360 degree picture of the AIAA Wright Flyer, a full-scale replica of the Wright Brothers' 1903 airplane, installed in the 40' x 80' wind tunnel. You can "turn your head" with the mouse (click the button and drag the mouse), zoom in with the "shift" key, and zoom out with the "control" key. Requires Quicktime from Apple computer - both Macintosh and WinTel versions availble.
This file is 568k, and takes about 2 minutes to load over a 56k modem.

The Wright Flyer - on the move again!
The AIAA Wright Flyer has moved from the Northrop Grumman facility in Hawthorne, CA to Microcosm, Inc. in El Segundo, CA. We welcome visitors - please e-mail us to arrange a visit!

Copyright © 2002-2003, AIAA Wright Flyer Project, all rights reserved.


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