The Wright brothers recorded their experiments in detail. Their accurate recordings have provided the basis for judging the authenticity of the reproduction Flyer. The goal of the flight tests was not only to prove an authentic Flyer could fly, but to record and study its behavior in detail. The process has been extensive and has resulted in unprecedented data.
To train the Wright Experience pilots for the reenactment of the first flight on December 17, 2003, the Bihrle Applied Research D-Six simulator was programmed using tables generated from the LFST wind tunnel test. This simulator uses look-up tables of aerodynamic coefficients that are presented as a function of angle of attack to represent the aircraft aerodynamics. Variables such as thrust effects and landing gear compliance are modeled to give a realistic assessment of the aircraft’s handling behavior both on the rail and in-flight.
Bihrle Applied Research Inc. is an aerospace technology company located in Hampton, Virginia specializing in the testing and simulation of aircraft. Bihrle’s integration of industry wide experience, creativity, and technology has revolutionized the acquisition, reduction and application of test data in high fidelity simulations. Since 1973, Bihrle has supported the development of the latest military and civil aircraft configurations with these unique capabilities and has been recognized throughout the industry for their contributions. For more information about the application of BAR’s simulation of the Flyer and the technology used, please contact Jack Ralston at 757-766-2416 (firstname.lastname@example.org), or visit www.bihrle.com
ViGYAN, Inc., in response to a suggestion by Aero-Space Consultants, is supporting the Wright Experience 1903 Wright Flyer reproduction project by providing an onboard flight data recorder, which provides test data during flights of the aircraft. The system was designed and fabricated at ViGYAN. It consists of an integrated PC-104 Single Board Computer, analog-to digital conversion board, signal filters, solid-state hard drive, onboard power supply, and enclosure. Software written in National Instruments LabVIEW provides the ability to acquire, monitor, and store the data for download after each flight. The system also provides the pilot real-time speed information during takeoff.
The system allows for up to 90 minutes of information including:
- Angle of Attack
- Angle of Sideslip
- Pitot Pressure
- Static Pressure
- Pitch Control Stick Position
- Wing Warp Position
- Normal, Longitudinal and Lateral accelerations near cg
- Normal, Longitudinal and Lateral accelerations at nose
- Torque at Prop Shaft
- RPM at Prop Shaft
ViGYAN staff installed the data system and instruments on the Wright Flyer and is providing test support during the test flights. The data are used to understand the aerodynamic characteristics of the Wright Flyer and have been useful in understanding its flight motions during the checkout process.
Significant contributions of instrumentation hardware or services to the flight recorder effort were also made by the following organizations:
SpaceAge Control, Inc. — Air Data Boom
BiTMICRO Networks, Inc. — Solid State Hard Drive
Precision Filters, Inc. — Signal Conditioning Filters
Modern Machine and Tool, Inc. — Installation of propeller shaft torque strain gauges
Sensotec, Inc. — Propeller shaft torque measurement system
Wyle Labs, Inc. – Calibration of Pressure Sensors
SR Batteries, Inc. — Flight Data Recorder Batteries
Battery Outlet Inc. — Ground Support Battery Chargers
December 17, 2003 was an incredible day for the entire team, thanks to the amazing crowd at Kill Devil Hills. We had rain, which led to ignition trouble in the engine. There wasn’t enough wind. But we tried, and we almost got a flight on the SR22 aircraft. But we flew in another way, thanks to the incredible people who stuck with us the entire soggy day, and cheered us on. We cannot express our gratitude deeply enough. The Flyer’s performance that day actually replicated the Wrights’ first attempt at a public flight!
“The wind had dwindled down to a whisper. The crowd had been waiting all day to see the Flyer lift into the air. Not wanting to disappoint them, the crew stated the machine, and made an attempt at a flight. They Flyer rolled down the rail, but simply could not lift itself, and slid to a stop off the end of the track. The next attempt was thwarted by the rain.”
Although this sounds like December 2003, and the Centennial of the first flight, it actually is a description of the Wrights’ first attempt at a public flight May 23, 1904, at Huffman Prarie outside Dayton, Ohio. Wilbur was the pilot. He and Orville had invited reporters and spectators to come and see their new Flyer, and to make a demonstration flight. But the weather simply did not cooperate. The wind was too strong at first, so they waited until it calmed down. But it didn’t calm down. It died. There were rain clouds brewing. Wilbur decided to make a try anyway, and could not get off the ground.
The following day some of the reporters stayed around, but the tests were cancelled because of rain. Finally, on the 25th, between rain showers, Orville made a short hop in the machine. It wasn’t until four years later that Wilbur made his first public flight in Le Mans, France. Until then, he and Orville had to continually defend their claims that they had actually flown.