A yet-to-be chosen experimental aircraft builder could start assembly in about a year, Jabour said.
“The Brown Bird was built the same way, but it was built at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base by a bunch of enthusiasts out there,”said Jabour, a former Air Force brigadier general and retired aerospace executive.
The volunteer group wants to be able to find and replace parts more easily on the new replica. It also wants a plane that can be loaded in a shipping container to reach distant events, he said. Today, it takes a crew a week to disassemble the plane and load in on a tractor trailer for shipping.
The aging replica meets modern airworthiness standards, and was assembled with modern parts and materials, such as metal spars instead of wood, according to the organization. “We try to make it look like the 1911 airplane,” Jabour said. “It’s really built with modern construction techniques and shapes.”
Though it’s a replica of an early Wright brothers’ design built more than a century ago, the look-alike has its own history. The late Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, was among the aviation notables who flew aboard the “Brown Bird” biplane.
During a test flight in July 2011, the Wright “B” Flyer “Silver Bird” crashed in a test flight during an emergency landing in a field three miles from Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, killing pilots Don Gum, 73, of Beavercreek and Mitchell Cary, 64, of Yellow Springs. Both men were experienced pilots.
In January 2013, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined a faulty weld on a propeller shaft led to the loss of the left engine on the newly built replica moments before the crash, archives show. Despite the loss of one of two engines, the NTSB report said the pilots “should have been able to maintain control of the airplane during the forced landing attempt,” the Associated Press reported.