Air­planes Seek­ing Good Home

A ONE-OF-A-KIND COL­LEC­TION OF SCRATCH-BUILT WRIGHT

Air & Space Smithsonian - - Viewport - BY PAUL GLENSHAW PHOTOS BY DANE PEN­LAND

Some lucky com­mu­nity could get a new tourist at­trac­tion—and a les­son in early avi­a­tion.

While most of the air­planes Hyde has built be­long to mu­se­ums around the coun­try, seven of them still re­side in his shop in War­ren­ton, Vir­ginia. He’s hop­ing to find a mu­seum to buy the air­planes and a sec­ond orig­i­nal en­gine (se­rial num­ber 59), built in 1911 by Wright me­chanic Charles Tay­lor him­self.

“We’ve only done the first part of this—re-cre­at­ing the air­planes,” Hyde says. “It needs to go to the next phase, which is to keep the col­lec­tion in­tact and housed some place where the public could en­joy it.”

Hyde be­lieves young peo­ple can get ex­cited about avi­a­tion by learn­ing the Wrights’ story—two broth­ers build­ing bi­cy­cles and play­ing with kites who go to the beach and in­vent one of the most trans­for­ma­tive ob­jects of the 20th cen­tury. He hopes re-cre­at­ing their work will in­spire fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of aero­nau­ti­cal in­no­va­tors. “[The Wrights] show a great prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of math­e­mat­ics,” he says. “They’re per­sis­tent. They’re brave.” And, he adds, they were so in­dus­tri­ous and achieved so much, it’s hard to fig­ure out when they slept.

Hyde and his team know some­thing about this. They’ve been learn­ing in­tently, some­times sleep­lessly, about the Wrights’

THERE ARE ONLY TWO GUYS who have built more Wright broth­ers’ air­planes than Ken Hyde and his Wright Ex­pe­ri­ence team: Orville and Wil­bur. Hyde’s count so far is 21. They in­clude all the glid­ers built be­tween 1900 and 1911, three 1903 Fly­ers, the long-lost 1908 Fort Myer Flyer, and four 1911 Model Bs (one with an orig­i­nal Wright en­gine).

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