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Wright demonstration has the wrong stuff

Replica of 1905 plane crashes on anniversary

A Wright Flyer III replica piloted by Mark Dusenberry crashes at Huffman Prairie Flying Field on Friday. Dusenberry was unhurt, except for his pride, but the wood and fabric plane had wing and propeller damage that may take two years to repair.
A Wright Flyer III replica piloted by Mark Dusenberry crashes at Huffman Prairie Flying Field on Friday. Dusenberry was unhurt, except for his pride, but the wood and fabric plane had wing and propeller damage that may take two years to repair.
Ty Greenlees, Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio — A replica of the Wright brothers' plane crashed Friday during a demonstration to mark the 102nd anniversary of the aviation pioneers' historic flight.

There were no injuries, but the crash damaged the replica of the 1905 Wright Brothers Flyer III — a fragile aircraft made primarily of wood and fabric.

The plane came down about 30 seconds into the flight in front of hundreds of spectators at Huffman Prairie, where Wilber and Orville Wright tested their airplanes and taught themselves to fly.

The plane's motor and frame were functioning properly when he took off, said pilot Mark Dusenberry. But the aircraft began moving up and down between 20 feet and five feet off the ground in roller-coaster fashion. As the plane turned, one of the wingtips hit the ground, bringing the aircraft down.

Amanda Wright Lane, great grandniece of the Wright brothers, said that while the plane came to the ground "very unceremoniously," the flight itself brought tears of happiness to her eyes.

Lane said her ancestors crashed numerous times on the prairie as they tested and perfected their airplane. She said Friday's outcome made her even more impressed with what they accomplished by themselves.

The Wright brothers' first flight occurred Dec. 17, 1903, a few miles south of Kitty Hawk, N.C. But the Wrights couldn't steer the plane or be assured it could land safely, so they returned home to Dayton and began working on a maneuverable, controllable aircraft.

On Oct. 5, 1905, a 39-minute flight satisfied the Wrights that the plane could take off under its own power, be fully controlled and maneuvered, and land safely. At the end of the flight, they declared that they had the world's first practical airplane.

Dusenberry, 47, an Ohio Department of Transportation engineer, said he built his aircraft from blueprints he obtained from the 1905 Wright plane displayed at Carillon Park in Dayton. He said the plane has stayed in the air anywhere from five seconds to two minutes per flight.

"It's fixable," said Dusenberry, but added that repairs might take up to two years. He said it took him seven years to construct the plane.