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Build & Fly The Wright Flyers

Practical Applications

Final Tuning for Wright Biplanes

Learning From the 1900 & 1901 Gliders

The First Powered Flight

TA Wright 1903 Kitty Hawk Flyer

Advanced Wing Structure

Print Version

  *Printing Instructions

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Look at your TA Wright glider head on, and concentrate on the wing. The wings are usually slightly warped because of the force applied to the paper when the wing is cut out. The sharper the scissors, the less warp you will find.

When tuned, your aircraft should look like the one above when viewed from the front. Only the leading edge of the wing surface should be visible.

If the wing surface is twisted or warped, your aircraft will spin or turn to the left or right. Reducing this twist or warp reduces drag, and will allow the aircraft to use the lift more equally for the left and right wings. The goal is balance, or equal lift for each wing surface.
The TA Wright '01 as it appears in the "head on" view for tuning. This glider's wings are warped in opposite directions. The wing on the right is warped up, while the left hand wing is warped down. Twist the wings gently, in steps to equalize the lift on both sides. Most Wright flyers need some "up" elevator, as shown above. The tuning instructions on this page apply to all Toothpick Airforce aircraft.

When tuning, continuously return to the head on view to observe the twist or warp. Fly the aircraft in between to detect problems, or recognize when you have achieved your goal. If the wing or wings are only slightly twisted, sometimes a simple twist in the opposite direction is all it takes.

The Wright 1900 and 1901 gliders had no tail rudders, or vertical stabilizers of any sort. The TA versions of these gliders are stabilized to good effect by the lateral surface area of the wing struts. While these can not be adjusted for yaw (turning), turns for these gliders can be achieved by wing warping, or adjustment of one side or the other of the elevator.

Additional Weight
Adding weight by increments of small lengths of toothpick can improve the glide of your aircraft. While TA gliders can fly excellently with a little weight, sometimes more can make them fly better and faster. Use the elevator to compensate for increased weight.

Wright 1901 Glider

Parts list for the 1901 glider.
  • A and B are wings.
  • C is the elevator.
  • D1-4 are wing struts.
  • E1,2 are the elevator struts.

Two full length toothpicks for the airframe.
  Straighten the struts before mounting wing.

Assembly Instructions
  1. Copy, scan and print, or trace the drawing on the previous page on 24 lb paper of any color.
  2. Bend and crease the drawing at the fold line (see figure 9).
  3. Cut the glider parts out starting at the fold line. Always cut on the solid lines, fold on the dotted lines.
  4. Lay the wings and elevator flat on your work surface, with the printed side up.
  5. Bend the struts on the dotted lines to form "feet" on each end of the strut. Make the bend on the end away from the original fold line first.
  6. Cut the struts apart. You will now have 4 identical struts with which to mount the upper wing on the lower. Bend and cut the elevator struts apart the same way. Caution, too much glue can warp and twist the wing!
  7. Smear a small amount of Elmer's (or similar glue) on each wing strut (D1-4) foot. Mount them one at a time on the upper wing, beginning 1/4" from the centerline. Place the outside struts 3/8" from the wing tip, as shown in the photo.
  8. Examine your flat toothpicks. You will find a slight bevel on both the wide and the narrow ends of one side. Smear a small amount of glue on the small or narrow end of each toothpick on the non-beveled side. Press the toothpicks into position, overlapping the leading edge of the lower wing by 3/4" as shown in the photo above.

    After the wing assembly is dry, glue the elevator in place carefully. Two 5/8" long blocks of toothpick from the wider, heavier end of a toothpick should provide enough balance weight. Consult "Final Tuning For Wright Biplanes" on page 8.

  9. Straighten the wing struts to a 90 degree angle from the wing surface. Adjust the feet on the opposite end of the struts so that the surface of the foot will contact the bottom wing when it is lowered into position. Smear each of the four struts with a small amount of glue, and carefully align the bottom wing with the top, gently pressing it into place. Continue holding the wing in position for one minute, till the glue sets up.
  10. Glue the elevator struts in place about 1/2 inch from the front of the airframe.
  11. Smear a small amount of glue on the top of the elevator struts, then press the elevator in place. The elevator front should project forward 3/8 inch in front of the elevator strut.
  12. Clip two 5/8 inch blocks of toothpick from the wider, heavier end of the toothpicks, and glue them to the airframe in front of the elevator struts for balance.

    A side by side comparison of the TA Wright 1900 and 1901 Wright gliders. Both fly excellently even though the original Wright gliders did not! Do you know why? One big reason is neither had upright tail or rudder surface. The 1902 Wright glider had a single upright rudder located behind the wing.

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