Wright flyer passes Ohio team inspection

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Features Editor

Feb. 19, 2001 10 PM

Brundidge is fast gaining the reputation as the "Wright" place to be.

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On Friday, representatives of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio were in town for final inspection

of a full-scale replica of the 1905 Wright Flyer fabricated by Brundidge sculptor and artist Larry Godwin.

The Wright Flyer replica will be a focal point of Dayton’s Invention Station, which is a phase of the $22 million Riverscape development, a joint riverfront venture between the city and county governments.

Jim Dineen, assistant county administrator for Montgomery County, said he had expectations for the sculptured replica, but the work far exceeds his expectations.

"I’m ecstatic," Dineen said. "Larry has done an unbelievable job. Not only is this a work of art, it is also a outstanding example of engineering skills. To say that I am pleased – that we are pleased – would be an understatement."

Dineen said the Wright Flyer will be a "jewel" in Invention Park.

The park was designed as part of the Riverscape Project because Dayton is the home of more patents than any other city.

And, what greater invention than that of "home city boys," Wilbur and Orville Wright.

On Dec. 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers made the world’s first flight in a power-driven, heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk, N.C. They made three flights that day, the longest of which

was 59 seconds. They continued their flying experiments at a field near Dayton in 1904 and 1905.

In 1904, the brothers made 105 flights which totaled only 45 minutes. But, on Oct. 5, 1905, their flyer flew 24.2 miles in 38 minutes, 3 seconds, lifting the Wright Brothers to the pinnacle of aeronautical fame.

"Because of aeronautical history that was made by the Wright Brothers in Dayton that day, the planners and developers of the Riverscape Project wanted to include a replica of the 1905 Wright Flyer in Invention Park," Godwin said. "

Godwin was a likely choice to fabricate the flyer because of his previous experience with the Wright Brothers and their marvelous flying machines.

In 1985, Godwin fabricated a 1910 version of the Wright Flyer for Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. From 1910 – 1911, the Wright Brothers set up and ran a flight training school in Montgomery at about the same location where the base is presently located.

He was also commission to fabricate a replica of the Wright Brothers’ First Flyer for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. This replica includes bronze figures of the brothers.

Godwin’s experience fabricating flyers and the skill and creativity displayed in his work gave him the nod for the 1905 Flyer for the Dayton project, which includes the flyer and bronze figures of the brothers.

The stainless steel and aluminum flyer, with a 40-foot wingspan, weighs more than three tons and has moving parts – the canard, which is the front stabilizer, the rudder and the propellers, which move in opposite directions to provide balance to the flyer.

"A stationary monument with slow motion animation," is how Godwin described the flyer.

"I have fabricated two other Wright Brothers flyers, but this one presented an even greater challenge, he said. "The other flyers have withstood time and the elements, but nothing to compare with the elements of Ohio. I had to make sure that the flyer can stand its own with snow and ice. That was an added challenge and an interesting one."

The monument will also include life-size bronze figures of the Wright Brothers. Wilbur was the pilot of the plane and is in a prone position on the wing with the controls in his hands.

Once the flyer is in place at Invention Park, Orville with take his place beneath the flyer to direct the flight from ground level.

"The Wright Flyer should be an impressive monument to the brothers and to powered flight," Godwin said.

Weather conditions in Ohio have slowed progress on the park, but plans are to have the flyer "up and running" in May.

Godwin’s replica will do everything the Wright Brothers’ flyer would do – "except fly," Godwin laughed.

The flyer will be one of a number of displays at Invention Station. The National Cash Register display will be a giant cash register with keys large enough for visitors to take a seat. Another will be a sculpture of a generator with a cut-away view.

The pop-top cans were a Dayton "invention" and there will be a "wild and wondrous" display that will have eyes popping.

"From what I understand, Invention Park is going to be a one-of-a-kind park," Godwin said. "I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the Riverscape Project. It is a very innovative development project. The City of Dayton and Montgomery County are to be commended. These people are visionaries."