Aircraft of The Wright Experience (Part 2): The 1909 Wright Military Flyer [Feature]


The Wright Experience in Warrenton, Virginia is home to an outstanding collection of Wright aircraft reproductions created over 25 years of meticulous study into Wilbur and Orville Wright’s engineering and fabrication practices.

Thanks to the generosity of Wright Experience team member E.Scott Rawlings, we are sharing a collection of images detailing many of these machines, which are currently available for sale.

In part 1 of this series, we examined the team’s reproduction of the 1902 Wright Glider. This week we look at the 1909 Wright Military Flyer – the first aircraft accepted by the United States Army Signal Corps.


Above and Below: After initial flights at Ft. Myer, Virginia in June 1909, the Wright Military Flyer was moved to College Park, Maryland and flown by Wilbur in October, 1909. These photos represent the machine as she looked at College Park (the upper front rudder was moved to the rear boom).




Above: In its launch configuration. The 26′ tall tower has a 1,400 lb. weight that catapults the aircraft down 60′ of rail for takeoff. Without pilots, the right side of the aircraft is heavier due to the engine being offset to the right, so they would invert the transportation dolly (rusty wheel) to support the aircraft on its takeoff dolly (green lateral bar under king post of landing skids).

08sept15 002

Above: Brass 12 gallon fuel tank, vertical brass radiator, Wright vertical 4 engine.

10sept15 004

Above: The pilot’s position. The right seat is for soloing while the left seat was used by students.

10sept15 002

Above: Detail of the front rudder (pitch). Note the yaw string attached to the front spreader. This was their instrument package.

08sept15 005

Above: The magneto cutoff switch (center of photo) located next to the pilot. Seats are horsehair filled 11 wale corduroy. Note the lack of restraints.

22sept15 067

Above: The 1909 Military Flyer measures 27′-8″ long, weighs 735 lbs empty and has a wingspan of 36′-4″. Orville and Wilbur figured her airspeed at 44mph.