Progress Photos for April 27th, 2003
Today we FLY!

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"Spirit of Glen Ellyn" flew today for the first time. Our Wright Replica Flyer is the first to have taken to the air in this the 100th anniversary year of the first flight.


  1. Yes it's not quite in the air yet but within moments after this shot was taken the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" was truly off the rail and into the air. It was a sunny 70 degree day and the wind was only about 15 mph (the Wrights had over 25 mph head wind for their first attempt). The following images show events leading up to and immediately after this flight.

  Thanks to the production crew from the History Channel we now have an image of the airborne Flyer.

  2. We got an early start today to make use of the great weather.

  3. But unfortunately we broke a skid during a tow test.

  4. Having had a video camera trained on the Flyer we were able to analyze what and why it happened. Back in the hangar the video was played back.

  5. As the team viewed the video we decided not only to repair the skid but also to make all future tests from the launch rail. If we have to break anything, let's do it while attempting to fly.

  6. The team immediately got to work repairing the broken parts.

  7. Mark Miller applies glue to the shattered skid. The repaired parts will be replaced with all new parts at a later time. But for now let's make hay while the sun shines.

  8. Clamps hold together the glued skid.

  9. For the next few hours while the glue cured the team discussed a new method for not only strengthening the skids but also making them slicker for the grassy landing surface we'll be using.

  10. The material chosen is plastic pipe used in plumbing. A slot is cut the length of the pipe for the skid to fit inside.

  11. Turk and Bill heat and bend the pipe to fit over the curved skid.

  12. Openings are trimmed out for the lateral supports.

  13. The skid is clamped in place while the pipe is securely safety wired.

  14. A neat tidy repair to be sure.

  15. The Flyer is ready to go.

  16. Meanwhile at the grass runway parallel to the concrete runway another part of the team brings out the launch rail. Our friendly History Channel production crew joined us to videotape the rail assembly.

  17. Ken Kirincic and Tom Norton look over the position of the launch rail.

  18. Mike Perry, who constructed the launch rail, drills holes into the base for spikes.

  19. Tom hammers in the spikes for securing the launch rail.

  20. Ken checks each rail joint to ensure smooth travel of the Flyer. A History Channel cameraman videotapes Ken's work.
  21. Mike walks the rail, inspecting as he goes.

  22. With the rail securely in place, the carriage dolly is roll tested for operation.

  23. The launch rail is ready.

  24. Ken Kirincic, the Flyer's pilot, discuss flying strategy with Dr. Ken Packer, a veteran World War II Marine Corps fighter pilot.

  25. Back at the hangar the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" is being towed out to the site for its historical journey.

  26. Out at the end of the grassy runway the Flyer is moved into position.

  27. Over the rail the Flyer is further positioned.

  28. Let's get as close as possible.

  29. Setting the Flyer onto the launch rail had us all wondering how the Wright brothers and their small crew of men handled the weight, the bulk and frailty of the Flyer on that frigid day in December.

  30. Steve Meyers checks the alignment of the Flyer on its launch rail.

  31. The Flyer is in position and the launch rail is secured.

  32. Turk preflights the engine.

  33. With our pilot in place we walk the Flyer down the rail to make certain it rolls freely.

  34. The roll test reveals a few soft spots in the ground.

  35. Rolling the Flyer back to its start position, we mark the weak spots.

  36. The team goes to work firming up the ground.

  37. The "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" looks beautiful against the blue skies.

  38. Mike Perry checks the wind speed.

  39. With our pilot in the "cockpit" Mark prepares to start the engine for our first attempt to fly.

  40. And off she goes. The Flyer speeds down the launch rail and within moments is airborne.

  41. She comes to a stop some 136 feet from the end of the launch rail. While everyone is off camera cheering, hugging and congratulating one another, Ted Craft inspects the Flyer for damage.

  42. The History Channel's cameraman has recorded our first successful flight for an upcoming TV special.

  43. Two additional attempts were unsuccessful. The wind was little more than 10 MPH and we were losing daylight, so we took the "Spirit" back to the hangar.

  44. the tail end to a successful day.

  45. The Flyer returns home.

  46. The team's spirits still soar as they push the proud bird back to her perch.

  47. It was a very good day.

  48. a very good day indeed.
More to come.