Before this blog was started last year I did a story for the Plain Dealer on a great tourist attraction in southwest Ohio.
It’s about the chance to ride a replica of the very first commerical airplane.
Here are some excerpts from the story:
How about taking an airplane ride where you don’t sit inside the airplane. You sit out front on the wing of the aircraft.
There is an attraction near Dayton, Ohio where you can duplicate what it must have been like over a hundred years ago when humankind first learned to fly.
The first practical airplane developed by the Wright Brothers that they sold to the public was called the Wright Model B Flyer and there was no cockpit. The pilot and one passenger sat on the forward part of the lower wing. It didn’t go very fast, about fifty miles per hour, but it flew. For 100 dollars you can ride a replica of the original Wright Model B Flyer and duplicate early flights by the Wrights. The replica is similar in every way possible, but has some modifications to meet present day FAA safety requirements,
It all takes place in Miamisburg, Ohio, south of Dayton. Located in a building that also replicates the original Wright Brother’s Hanger that was located at Huffman Prairie where the Wrights perfected their flying machine and taught themselves to fly. You can see the flyable model, as well as an exact replica of the one the Wright Brothers built. (One of the original Model B’s is also on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Fairborn, Ohio.)
The Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport is a general aviation field and you will find the replica of the Wright’s original hanger tucked away near the flight line. Admission to the hanger is free and inside you can see both the flyable look-a-like version of the Model B as well as an exact replica and a new, more modern flyable version that is being constructed by a group of volunteers to supplement their original aircraft. If you would like to take an orientation flight in the look-a-like Model B it will cost 100 dollars, which also gives you a certificate proclaiming you an “Honorary Aviator” and noting the date and time you flew aboard the Wright B Flyer.
A bit of advice the pilot gave me as he was strapping me into my seat on the edge of the wing, “keep your goggles on and your mouth closed in case we run into a swarm of bugs on takeoff.” Talk about the wind in your face. The two big propellers are behind you, driven by a large chain drive to a single motor. As you roar down the runway and timidly take off you get a true birds-eye view of flying. Over the thunder of the motor I shouted to the pilot a question about what was it like to fly a plane based on the earliest form of aviation? “It’s kind of like driving an old tractor across a freshly plowed field” he responded, “If I want to make a turn I have to crank the wheel fifteen to twenty seconds before the turn.” The ride doesn’t last very long, but in those few minutes you join a select group of people who have gone aloft in mankind’s earliest type of aircraft and you experience history flying higher and farther than Orville Wright did on his first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
The hanger is open to the public every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 AM until 2:30 PM. Orientation flights are by appointment and usually flown on Saturdays and are subject to the availability of pilots and the weather. In other words, call first.
Wright B Flyer, Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport, 10550 Springboro Pike, Miamisburg, Ohio 45342, 937-885-2327, www.wright-b-flyer.org