Wright “B” Flyer Inc.’s one-of-a-kind airplane is ready to travel to the world’s biggest general aviation fly-in—by road.
The slow-flying, open-air biplane isn’t designed for cross-country flights, so Wright “B” Flyer loaded the machine into its custom semi-trailer on Saturday, July 11, for the 490-mile journey to Oshkosh, Wis., where the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will stage its annual AirVenture convention and air show the week of July 20.
Fourteen people turned out to help the nonprofit’s volunteers. Loading the 3,400-pound airplane is a major challenge for the all-volunteer organization’s core members, most of whom are in their 70s and 80s.
“We simply could not have done this without the folks who showed up to help us this morning,” Wright “B” Flyer President Jay Jabour said.
Nicknamed the “Brown Bird” for its color, the large, primitive-looking biplane is a familiar sight in the sky at local air shows, parades and other outdoor events. It’s a modern lookalike of the Wright brothers’ first factory-built airplane, the Wright Model B. Unlike the original wood-and-cotton Model Bs, the Brown Bird has a steel tube frame, a modern aircraft engine and other modern materials and components.
EAA has invited the Miamisburg-based nonprofit to exhibit and fly the airplane for the first time at AirVenture. It will put Dayton’s aviation heritage on display to an expected 500,000 people.
The invitation is part of EAA’s support for Wright “B” Flyer’s project to build a new airplane to succeed its “Brown Bird,” a modern lookalike of the Wright brothers’ first factory-built airplane. Wright “B” Flyer is offering EAA’s more than 180,000 members the opportunity to build parts of the new airplane.
Most construction and final assembly will take place in the original Wright Company factory in Dayton with support from the National Aviation Heritage Alliance and Home Avenue Redevelopment LLC, the property owner.
The Brown Bird has been flying since 1982, and the amount of time volunteers need to spend on maintenance has been growing. That and the difficulty of shipping it to remote venues like AirVenture are the main reasons why the organization has decided to build a new one. Like the Brown Bird, the new airplane will use modern materials and components, but it will be made so that two people can load it into a standard shipping container.
Wright “B” Flyer Inc. is an all-volunteer, membership based, 501c3 nonprofit that displays and flies replicas of the Wright brothers’ first factory-built airplane. Its hangar-museum is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Admission is free. Wright “B” Flyer is a partner of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance.