Donor pledges $150K to build new Wright ‘B’ Flyer

“It’s an uplifting thing for us to find somebody who is passionate as we are about what we do,” said Jay Jabour, president of the Wright “B” Flyer Inc., based at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Miami Twp.

The $50,000 challenge grant urges donors to match that amount, said Tim Gaffney, a Wright “B” Flyer Inc. spokesman.

The nonprofit, volunteer organization estimates it will need $250,000 to replace the aging Wright “B” Flyer known as the “Brown Bird,” or “Iron Bird.” The look-alike biplane often seen flying above events around the Dayton region was built in 1982. The plane also has flown throughout the United States and in Germany.

The look-alike is based on the first mass produced plane built in Dayton by the Wright Brothers starting in 1910, according to the organization.

A Fort Worth, Texas engineer and amateur aircraft builder flew on the Wright “B” Flyer this summer and pledged a total of $150,000 with the latest announcement, officials said.

“He’s really talking about being able to inspire the younger generation to aviation,” Jabour said.

If fundraising goals are reached and the plane’s builders obtain donated parts, such as an engine, avionics and wheels, the new biplane could take flight in 2017, he said.

“We use volunteer labor so we’re kind of held hostage to finding people who can do the labor for us,” he said.

Jabour said the “Brown Bird” might continue to fly when the new aircraft is built, but because of the age of the aircraft, no one can say for how long.

“We would expect that as long as we could keep it flying that we would use it, but … that’s getting harder and harder,” he said.

A new aircraft would mark the first time the flying organization has had two biplanes since the Wright “B” Flyer look-alike “Silver Bird” crashed in July 2011 during a test flight near Springfield, tragically killing two pilots.

Donations to the new airplane project may be made via check or money order and sent to: Wright “B” Flyer Inc., 10550 Springboro Pike, Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport, Miamisburg, OH 45342. For additional information, call 937-885-2327 or email wbflyer@dayton.net.

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