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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

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  *Printing Instructions

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  THE TOOTHPICK AIRFORCE (tm) concept is actually a formula for achieving balance in design and construction that allows the reader to build flying replicas of any aircraft of any era using just paper, paste and toothpicks! To celebrate the Centennial of Flight you can build the Wright 1900 glider, the 1901, 1902, and the flyer that made the worlds first controlled, powered flight, at Kitty Hawk in December of 1903.
Toothpick glider replicas of the Wrights' first flyers, that fly just like the real aircraft!

Follow the Wrights' progress with replicas of each of their first manned aircraft, learn the secrets that each successive flyer revealed!

Toothpicks, glue, wing patterns, scissors, and fingernail clippers   From the wing patterns on the following pages you can construct flying glider replicas of the airplanes that marked man's first successful flight.

Creasing the paper along the "fold line" makes mirror image wing surfaces and parts when cut out. Always cut on the solid lines, bend and crease on the dotted lines. Shown are all the supplies you will need. The clippers will be very handy.

Making Gliders Fly!

Building gliders that really fly can be a challenge. First we need to know why they fly, and there is no better way to do that than to look to the men who invented flight. Wilbur and Orville Wright planned, experimented, worked hard and practiced gliding continuously to conquer the air.

Along the way, they or their fellow pioneer flyers found a lot of ways to describe the mechanics of flight and invented special aviation terms and words you will need to know.
  Wright Glider in the air

We know now, flight is possible only when there is a balance between three absolute necessities: lift, control, and thrust. But in 1900 the Wright brothers had to figure this out for themselves. These words have special meaning in aviation:
  • Lift - The force exerted by the movement of air on an airfoil, being opposite the force of gravity and causing an aircraft to stay in the air.

  • Control - To hold in restraint or check; to regulate; to govern.

  • Thrust - To push or drive with force.
In their experiments with their 1900 and 1901 gliders the Wrights used information from other pioneers of flight. But this information on how wings created lift did not work the way it was supposed to. The brothers built one of the first wind tunnels to test the data, and found the data was wrong. The Wright's wind tunnel experiments and experience on their first gliders led to building the 1902 glider, which had new and advanced controls.

The 1902 glider was larger than any of the other gliders built anywhere in the world up to then, making some of the longest glides in history possible. With this glider they were able to perfect their control system, for which they received a patent in 1906. This three axis control system allowed for adjustment to yaw, pitch and roll, and is the basis for all modern aircraft flight.

The final challenge for the Wright brothers was in developing their own engine, and an efficient propeller. When the Wrights finally flew on December 17th, 1903, they had finally mastered lift, control, and thrust!

The descriptions and definitions on the following page will be helpful in constructing toothpick replicas of real gliders. Once you have mastered the basic mechanics of flight, experiment with camber in Advanced Wing Structure.

Parts of an airplane

Biplanes have two wings with struts between for strength and support. The Wright elevator was in front.

Special Terms for Airplanes and Flying:
  • Airplane and aeroplane-An airplane is a heavier-than-air craft that can be propelled through the air supporting itself on the lift from its wings. The British and some Europeans still use the term aeroplane.

  • Parts of an airplane-Fuselage, wings, tail assembly, engine, propellers, and landing gear. A glider is an airplane technically, even though it has no engine.

  • Fuselage-The fuselage is the body of the airplane, or the airframe that held the wings, engine and tail assembly in place in the first aircraft. The word comes from the French word fusele, meaning "spindle shaped."

  • Wing-The wing is an airfoil. An airfoil is a surface or body, like a wing, propeller blade, rudder, or aileron, designed to obtain a reaction of lift, drag, or thrust when it moves through the air.

  • Tail Assembly-The tail assembly is at the rear of the fuselage, and usually includes a rudder and elevator to maintain stability. It is sometimes called the empennage, from the French word empenner, meaning "to feather the arrow."

  • Stability-An airplane is stable if it flies straight and level, and can be righted if disturbed by a gust of wind or turbulence. An airplane can be rotated to maintain stability (using the rudder, elevator, and aileron surfaces) through three axes; lateral, vertical and longitudinal. These motions are called yaw, pitch and roll.

  • Rudder-The rudder is a control surface usually found at the rear of modern aircraft. The rudder controls turns to the right or left, or yaw.

  • Elevator-Up and down control (pitch) is provided by what the Wright Brothers called a horizontal rudder, and we now call the elevator. The Wrights placed the elevator in front of the wing, but most modern aircraft elevators are part of the tail.

  • Aileron-A control surface set into or near the wing tips, used to control the longitudinal axis or roll of the airplane. Ailerons are connected, so that when one is extended up, the opposite wings aileron is extended downward. Ailerons were developed from the Wright concept of wing warping, which increases the lift on one side while simultaneously reducing it on the other.

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