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EAA’s ‘Countdown to Kitty Hawk' ™  to Launch Wright Flyer Reproduction in Dec. 2003

Flight at Wright Brothers Memorial will be only re-creation to commemorate 100th anniversary of powered flight at Kitty Hawk

Video Clips of Sept. 12 News Conference:
Tom Poberezny 1 - 1834K       Ken Hyde - 1540K
Tom Poberezny 2 - 2268K

Standing with a Wright Bros.-designed bicycle under the Wright Flyer at the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum (l to r): Mary Doll, National Park Service; Tom Poberezny, President, EAA; Ken Hyde, The Wright Experience; and Gen. John Dailey, Director of the National Air and Space Museum.
(larger view)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — (Sept. 12, 2000) — Nearly a century after Wilbur and Orville Wright first flew their rudimentary "Flyer" off the sands at Kitty Hawk, N.C., to open the age of flight, many mysteries remain as to how two individuals privately created one of the most significant inventions in the history of man.

On Dec. 17, 2003, those secrets will be unlocked at last, climaxing years of research, building and testing in time to celebrate the centennial of powered flight.

During a news conference that included numerous government officials and aviation dignitaries, EAA — The Leader in Recreational Aviation — unveiled its "Countdown to Kitty Hawk" series of celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ achievement.

The centerpiece of this celebration will be the flight of a new 2003 Wright Flyer — the only accurate flying reproduction of the original — at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. on Dec. 17, 2003, 100 years to the date of that remarkable first flight.

"The possibilities within the world of flight were opened by two men who had only a dream and a resolve to make it happen," said Tom Poberezny, President of the 170,000-member EAA. "Our members continue to carry on that legacy of innovation. In that spirit, our membership commissioned this Countdown to Kitty Hawk project to put the Wright Flyer back in the sky. We are very pleased to be joined by those throughout the aviation world to make this particular dream a reality in 2003."

EAA commissioned Ken Hyde of Warrenton, Va., to build the Wright Flyer reproduction. For several years, Ken has been spearheading The Wright Experience™, an effort to re-create the aircraft and knowledge of the Wright brothers leading to the first successful powered flight in 1903.

This effort has proven extremely challenging, as the Wrights left no permanent record of their engineering, flight testing or aircraft development plans. The Wright Experience™ has made exhaustive studies of what information the Wrights left behind, following both a chronological sequence and "reverse engineering" of later Wright technology.

"In today’s airplanes, we see the magnificent evolution of the Wrights’ original efforts," Hyde said. "Our quest is to discover how the first steps were made — steps that are lost in history. We are confident that we will retrace those steps and finish the first century of flight as it began, by flying the same path as the Wright brothers."

The commissioning agreement calls for the aircraft to be completed by early 2003. The airplane will then be the centerpiece of a "Countdown to Kitty Hawk" tour at sites throughout the United States during the year. To date, tour stops include Lakeland, Fla., Dayton, Ohio, and Oshkosh, Wis., prior to the first flight re-creation at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. That location was part of the town of Kitty Hawk when the original flight took place in 1903.

The Countdown to Kitty Hawk program has been augmented with the support of the National Park Service, which has designated the reproduction as the only aircraft to fly on the historic Wright brothers’ First Flight Path at 10:35 a.m. on Dec. 17, 2003.

"Of all the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Wright brothers’ achievement, none will be as stunning as the re-creation — at the exact place and time — where the first flight took wing," said Francis Peltier, Superintendent of the National Park Service Outer Banks Group, which includes the Wright Brothers National Memorial. "We are excited to be working with EAA to produce this re-creation, in what we consider to be the Centennial of Flight’s showcase event."

EAA’s celebration of the first flight also includes a number of commemorative and educational programs on both the national and local levels. Also planned are multiple documentary productions chronicling the construction of the airplane and the event. Further details on those activities will be announced as they are confirmed.

"Countdown to Kitty Hawk" was created by EAA, The Leader in Recreational Aviation, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of powered flight. EAA is an international association with 170,000 members and more than 975 local Chapters. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or explore EAA’s World Wide Web site ( ).

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