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Incident at Kitty Hawk
The Wright Brothers Airplane is an easy Metal Earth model. It consists of 20 pieces on one sheet of metal. Assembled, it measures 3.90" x 1.99" x 0.82" (10 x 5.1 x 2.1 cm). In 1903 Flyer 1 covered 120 feet in 12 seconds to become the first heavier-than-air craft to achieve controled, piloted flight.
Each Metal Earth model is laser etched in meticulous detail on 11 cm (4.33") metal sheets. Pop out the pieces by hand (or use wire cutters to get especially crisp lines), bend the tabs using needle-nose pliers, and fit them together as shown in the simple pictorial instructions. For maximum dramatic effect, display your model on the LED Display Base or the Solar Spinner (sold separately, see the Related Products below).
Please note that Metal Earth models have sharp edges and are not suitable for small children. Metal Earth was originally called MetalWorks.
Are you curious...?
The Wright brothers built and test-flew a series of gliders from 1900-1902. Confident that Glider 2 had worked out the aerodynamics, they set to work on a spruce version of that airframe and commissioned an employee to build a crude gasoline engine from scratch. Falling back on their expertise with bicycles, they chained the engine to a pair of hand-made propellers.
The Wrights were more concerned with control than with stability, which was the main weakness of their canard biplane design (a canard puts a small pair of control wings in front of the main lifting wings). They quickly discovered that the plane was so unstable as to be barely controllable -- remember that they were making up the rules of aerodynamics as they went along. A few short test hops led up to an 852-foot (260 m) flight lasting 59 seconds. Each landing was a rough process that required some repairs before they could fly again. After that longest flight they felt encouraged to try a four-mile flight, but before they could do that the wind picked up their flyer and tumbled it end-over-end. That particular plane never flew again.
Of course, we all know that the Wright Flyer hangs today in the National Air & Space Museum, but getting there was a perilous process. The Flyer 1 wreck spent years in storage and endured a flood. At one point Wilbur had to be talked out of burning it. The Smithsonian Institution refused to credit the Wrights with the first flight, preferring instead the former Smithsonian Secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley (whose 1903 tests did not actually succeed, but technically could have done). Academic politics raged for decades, as they tend to do. In 1925 the Wrights threatened to donate the Flyer to the London Science Museum. The Smithsonian didn't blink, so the Wright plane went on display in London in 1928. It remained there until WW2, when it was moved to a bunker for safekeeping. In 1942 a new Smithsonian director finally acknowledged the historical fallacy of Langley's claim, and the Flyer returned to the US in 1948, after a replica was built for the Brits. Orville died shortly before the aircraft went on display, 45 years to the day after its historic flights.