New Wright brothers lookalike airplane tested locally before soaring worldwide

A recreation of history will soar above local skies before it takes off at other destinations worldwide.

All-volunteer, nonprofit corporation Wright “B” Flyer Inc. completed its first test flight Saturday of a new Wright “B” Flyer lookalike airplane at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Miami Twp. The flight is the result of a five-year project to build a new Wright lookalike airplane for educational and interpretive purposes, said Don Adams, the organization’s president.

“The idea behind the build was to have an aircraft that can be broken down and assembled quickly and placed in a shipping container so that we can take it all over the world as requested to share it with the world and to specifically highlight Dayton as the birthplace of aviation,” he said Tuesday.

The aircraft, known as “the White Bird” was constructed at the Wright “B” Flyer Museum & Hangar, 10550 Ohio 741 in Miami Twp.

Dayton natives Wilbur and Orville Wright made four brief flights on Dec. 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, with the Wright Flyer I. The Wright brothers built America’s first airplane factory in Dayton in 1910. The Model B was its first product.

Since 1982, Wright “B” Flyer Inc. has celebrated the legacy of the Wright brothers by flying and displaying a modern lookalike of the Model B at locations worldwide. The new one, the third aircraft designed and built by the organization, ensures its mission continues for the next generation, Adams said.

The volunteers at the Wright “B” Flyer Museum spent “countless hours” to design, fabricate and build the “White Bird” aircraft to modern standards with modern materials and components, he said.

Adams said he is thankful for the numerous people and organizations who contributed to the success of attaining first flight of the “White Bird” aircraft.

Wright “B” Flyer will continue to test the aircraft as much as possible this fall and next spring at the Dayton Wright Brothers Airport to complete the testing hours required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The organization’s goal is to unveil the new Wright ‘B’ Flyer to the public during next year’s CenterPoint Energy Dayton Air Show, Adams said.

Because the plane is designed for easy disassembly and shipping, the organization will be able to use it to share the Wright brothers story worldwide and provide brief flights to the public, Adams said.

“The White Bird will allow us to continue to provide education and entertainment locally, nationally and internationally, sharing the story of the Wright brothers and the invention of manned, powered flight,” Adams said. “We have six pilots trained to fly the Wright ‘B’ Flyer lookalike and they will all be part of the ongoing testing of this aircraft and the subsequent activities we will be requested to do.”

Mackensie Wittmer, executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Area, said the lookalike aircraft represents “a new opportunity for the Dayton region” because there is nowhere else in the world that an average person can fly on a Wright lookalike.

Brig. Gen. Jay Jabour, retired from the U.S. Air Force, piloted the first flight.

“Gen. Jabour has been a volunteer and pilot of the Wright ‘B’ Flyer for several years and was the one of the driving forces behind this build,” Adams said. “He was a test pilot in the USAF and was chairman of the board here at Wright ‘B’ Flyer for several years until he stepped down about three years ago, and as result of his service, was given the honor.”

Jabour said piloting the aircraft above the length of the 5,000-foot-runway for about 2 minutes was “pretty exciting.”

“This is just the first baby step,” Jabour said. “We’re lucky because we have innovations in it that the Wright Brothers never dreamed of.”

About the Author