The spirit of the Wright Brothers is alive and well in one Las Vegas school. The students in the aviation magnet program at Rancho High School are working to restore a replica of the 1905 Wright Flyer.
Tenth grader Henry Power says he's hopeful he and his fellow students will get it ready to display at Nellis Air Force Base for the Aviation Nation air show on Veterans Day. “Our plan isn’t to make it operational by Veteran’s Day, that was just a long term goal to make it operational and flyable.”
The flier was originally built in 2003 by the University of Southern Utah to mark the 100th anniversary of the famous Kitty Hawk flight where the Orville and Wilbur Wright made history. Their replica had slight compromises from the original model to achieve a greater stability to fly it.
Rancho High School Principal James Kuzma says even though it’s a replica, the history lesson is still there. “The students are able to get their hands on things they would normally read in textbooks.”
The replica weighs 1,600 pounds and has a wingspan of 41 feet. An assessment of the craft shows it needs a new engine and other modifications to be ready for display after a minor crash a few years ago. The flyer is only one of six replicas existing that were built to mark the centennial of the flight.
The Las Vegas chapter of the Air Force Association assisted the aviation lab with getting the Flyer shipped and assembled. “The goal is for as many students to be able to touch it, see it, understand it, and enjoy it and build that enthusiasm for aviation,” said Bob Hale, a member of the organization.
An estimated 50 students have already signed up to work on the restoration throughout the summer to help the project move forward ahead of the November deadline.