November 24, 2003
Village of Glen Ellyn Proclamation

Back to Photo Gallery page.

November 24, 2003 the Village Board of Glen Ellyn invited to their monthly meeting, members of the Wright Redux Association. On this occasion the village president Greg Mathews read a proclamation in recognition of Wright Redux Association's accomplishments.

But before Mr. Mathews did so, Mike Perry, treasurer of Wright Redux, read a brief speech, which follows the images below. After Mike's speech Mark Miller presented to the board a photo of the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" in its historic full replica flight on October 14, 2003.





On behalf of my colleagues in the Wright Redux Association, I'd like to say thank you for the honor of being here tonight.

My name is Mike Perry and I have been a resident of Glen Ellyn for the last 16 years. I am also a volunteer in the Wright Redux Association, just like these wonderful people here with me.

Though the story has been told many times, I'd like to take the time here tonight to give a brief retelling of the genesis of this great example of volunteerism at its best.

The quest to build, and then to fly, a full scale replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer began with the dream and enthusiasm of two men from Glen Ellyn, Tom Norton and Mark Miller.

That dream began with the building of a 1900 Wright Glider for a Glenbard West High School project by Peter Norton, son of Tom, in 1999. Tom and Mark lent some encouragement, support and, in Mark's case, woodworking expertise to that project.

Along the way, they, like many others in the past, got hooked on how big, how wonderful, how amazing was the accomplishment of the brothers Wright back in 1903 and the years that preceded it. The two of them built a Glider or a Flyer each year for six years in a row (1900 to 1905).

Tom and Mark began to enlist others in the dream. Their enthusiasm was infectious. They decided to name the flyer "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" in honor of their hometown. Others soon heard of the project and began to donate money, materials, expertise, services and time.

One of the first donors was the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Three years ago they saw the opportunity to acquire a real working replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer, not a museum piece that never flew.

Two years ago in October they enlisted my help and that of a few others in actually building the Flyer. The majority of the core group of approximately a dozen volunteers sits here before you. Most, but not all, are from Glen Ellyn.

These folks have given up almost every weekend for the last two years to pursue the dream of building and flying the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" so that they could honor the achievement of the Wright Brothers in this Centennial Anniversary Year of Powered Flight. Now that we have achieved the dream, we hope our families have not forgotten about us and they will welcome us back.

We also cannot fail to honor our partner, Packer Engineering of Naperville. Dr. Ken Packer committed the resources of this highly regarded firm to our endeavor by volunteering to build a replica of the 1903 engine. We could not have achieved our dream without our colleagues at Packer Engineering.

The first flight of the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" occurred on April 27, 2003 at Clow International Airport in Bolingbrook. (We, of course, would have flown in Glen Ellyn if only we had an airfield.) We achieved a flight of 136 feet, 16 feet longer than Orville's flight on December 17, 1903. Many other attempts followed and we achieved our longest flight of 357 feet on July 13, 2003 at the same location. Finally, on October 14, 2003 at Clow we flew our Flyer in full replica status (that is, with the replica engine built by Packer) to achieve our dream.

You may be aware of other people and groups in Dayton, Ohio and Virginia and Utah and Indiana and California who are also pursuing this same dream. Each project is different and is pursued in a different manner. Some are volunteer organizations like ours; others have large funding and paid employees.

Some are trying to build replicas; others are not so true to the original. But the important thing to remember is that we were first in the air this year with a true replica 1903 Wright Flyer and that it was done by a handful of dedicated volunteers with the support of a great community and many other enthusiasts for the achievement of the Wright Brothers. Without that support we would not have achieved this dream.

In closing, we'd like to suggest to the Village of Glen Ellyn that you publicize the airing of The Wright Challenge on the History Channel, December 9, 2003 at 8PM Central Time. This show is a documentary of four different groups attempting to build 1903 Flyer Replicas, and it prominently features the Wright Redux Association, Packer Engineering and the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn."

We'd also like to suggest that you encourage Glen Ellyn to visit the "Spirit of Glen Ellyn" at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry where it now hangs in the pre-eminent place of honor, the central rotunda.

Finally, to honor the Village of Glen Ellyn, we'd like to present this photographic memento of our endeavor to be displayed where you see fit.