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Wright Flyer Meets EAA Sun ín Fun Fliers

EAA President Tom Poberezny welcomes Sun 'n Fun attendees to the Countdown to Kitty Hawk Pavilion on April 2, 2003.

April 2, 2003 - Amid the hustle and bustle of the opening day of the Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In, the introduction of EAA's authentic reproduction of the Wright brothers Flyer to the public and the grand opening of EAA's Countdown to Kitty Hawk touring pavilion, presented by Ford Motor Company, was the most prestigious event of the day.

In welcoming aviation enthusiasts to the pavilion, EAA President Tom Poberezny said, "Our goal is to tell the incredible story of two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, who were not only bicycle builders, but men who through invention, standards, and creativity changed the world. There have been many significant inventions and many significant events throughout time, but very few over history have had the impact that the airplane has on each of us. For those of us who are pilots and aviation enthusiasts, we know what flying means to us. When we look beyond that, for every single citizen of this world, the airplane behind me has shrunk the world we live in and provided assets, services, and commodities that were never dreamed about previously.

"In establishing Countdown to Kitty Hawk, we wanted to do a year-long celebration, not just a singular event, to celebrate the centennial of flight. This is not an aviation celebration, it is an aviation-led celebration that will be celebrated world wide, culminating on December 17, 2003 at 10:35 a.m. when the airplane you see behind me will take to the air again from the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina."

EAA's 1903 Wright Flyer is the centerpiece 
of the Countdown to Kitty Hawk Pavilion.

The 24,000-square-foot Countdown to Kitty Hawk pavilion is not only home to the Wright Flyer reproduction aircraft, built by Ken Hyde and the Wright Experience, but also houses Ford Motor Company's special Kitty Hawk edition Lincoln Aviator. Richard Beattie, executive vice-president of Jaguar and Land Rover, represented Ford Motor Company and said, "We're delighted to be here this morning for the grand opening of this pavilion to celebrate what is going to be a very important year. I'd like to note that there were three men who set out to change the world. Henry Ford and Orville and Wilbur Wright are always linked throughout history. The relationship between their families was much more than a single year and a single focus, as you can see from the displays around the pavilion. Ford Motor Company is extremely proud to support the construction of the reproduction aircraft, and we're sure that if Orville and Wilbur were here today they'd would certainly recognize the builders' handiwork." Beattie went on to compare the similarities and differences between the Lincoln Aviator and the Wright Flyer, noting that while the Flyer could cover 120 feet in 12 seconds, the Aviator, with its 350-hp V-8 engine, could do so in three seconds. "And they're both good in sand," he added.

Dottie Hall, representing Eclipse Aviation, which is also a sponsor of the touring pavilion, announced the "Top Ten Greatest Aviation Innovations" as chosen by a panel of aviation experts, and unveiled Eclipse's "Top Ten Innovations" display in the pavilion. The top ten innovations chosen are the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Douglas DC-3 and the Boeing 247, the invention of the jet engine, the Dehavilland Comet and the Boeing Dash 80, the Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter, the Piper Cub, the Boeing 747, the invention of the controllable pitch propeller, the advent of the air traffic control system, and the Lear Jet.

Aviation enthusiasts are invited to participate in choosing the number one innovation in aviation by visiting the touring pavilion or the Countdown to Kitty Hawk website,

Bruce Williams of Microsoft Flight Simulator represented that sponsor at the festivities and noted that while aviation has become a routine part of our lives today, it's still fascinating to people all over the world. "But a great many obstacles keep a lot of people from taking to the skies themselves. While technology can't bypass all of those obstacles, we can help many of those people who are passively looking at aviation to experience it first hand. That's really why the Microsoft Flight Simulator team joined Countdown to Kitty Hawk. Aviation is a large part of our lives, and we wanted to apply our technology to help commemorate the centennial of flight. Our latest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator will be out later this year to celebrate the first 100 years of powered flight by inviting enthusiasts to climb in the cockpits of nine historical aircraft, including the Wright Flyer, along with some modern aircraft.

Pavilion visitors try their hand at flying the Wright Flyer 
in the Microsoft Flight Simulator.

As enthusiasts lined up to fly the Wright Flyer simulator, Poberezny explained that the Flyer itself had arrived at Sun 'n Fun after having completed wind-tunnel testing at Old Dominion University, where it has been proven that this airplane will fly. Currently, four pilots are in training to fly the airplane, with well-known aviator Scott Crossfield leading the training. Poberezny added that the biggest challenge facing the pilots is that they are having to unlearn everything they know about flying in order to fly this airplane. "The tendency is to make the airplane better based on what we've learned about airplanes since the early 1900s, but we don't want to do that. We want to do it just like Orville and Wilbur did.

"So, this is a journey and story--a story of two builders, a story of innovation and aviation, and a story of training. In order to make this possible, it's taken 170,000 EAA members and our partners, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and Eclipse Aviation."

In addition to its presence at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In, the Countdown to Kitty Hawk touring pavilion will visit Ford Motor Company's 100th anniversary celebration in Dearborn, Michigan, June 13-16, 2003, Inventing Flight in Dayton, Ohio, July 4-20, 2003, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2003, July 29-Aug. 4, 2003,  the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, Aug. 23-Sept.2, 2003 and the First Flight Centennial Celebration in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in December. EAA invites members and enthusiasts to visit the pavilion and participate in the 100th anniversary of flight celebration to the fullest.


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