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Wright "B" Flyer Profile

By Timothy R. Gaffney

Wright B Flyer 001 General characteristics

Crew: Pilot and co-pilot or observer
Powerplant: One turbo-charged Lycoming HIO-360 F1AD, 225 max horsepower.
Propellers: Two chain-driven Sensenich two-blade pusher propellers, 97 in. dia., wood, counter-rotating
Wing span: 38 ft. 6 in.
Height: 10 ft. 8 in.
Length: 31 ft. 11 in.
Weight: 3,400 lb.
Wing area: 480 sq. ft.
Wing loading: 7 lb./sq. ft.
Wing airfoil: NACA4412

Takeoff speed: 41 mph
Cruise speed: 60 mph
Landing speed: 45 mph
Endurance: 2 hrs
Range: 100 mi.

July 19, 2015 - That big, brown contraption in the Vintage Aircraft area isn’t a misplaced piece of farm machinery. It’s Wright “B” Flyer No. 001—affectionately nicknamed the Brown Bird—a one-of-a-kind, flying symbol of America’s aviation heritage.

Ten feet high, 38 feet wide and 32 feet long, the “B” is a collection of beefy planes and vanes held together with steel tubes, struts and cables. Its strange undercarriage includes two motorcycle tires and two airplane tail wheels—with both tail wheels in front.

Yes, it flies—barely. The 3,400-pound machine struggles into the air at 41 miles per hour, propelled by a pair of chain-driven pusher propellers. It trundles along at 55 mph and settles back to earth at 45. It’s the opposite of supersonic; at a flyover, you can hear and see it long before it arrives.

Built to modern airworthiness standards with modern components and materials, the Brown Bird was designed to resemble—from a typical flyby distance—America’s first factory-built airplane, the Wright Model B. It offers riders the wind-in-your-hair experience of early pioneer flight.

The Brown Bird is making its first visit to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year. It’s scheduled to be on static display in the vintage area and to fly in the air show on Thursday and Sunday. Specific times were not set at press time.

 Wright “B” Flyer Inc., the all-volunteer nonprofit based at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Ohio, brought the airplane to help promote its project to build a replacement for the aging Brown Bird. With support from the EAA and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance in Dayton, Wright “B” Flyer will build its new plane in the original Wright Company factory. It’s inviting EAA chapters and individuals to help build it.

“Wilbur and Orville Wright were America’s first airplane homebuilders,” said William J. “Jay” Jabour, Wright “B” Flyer president. “I can’t think of a better way to honor their legacy than to build a modern version of their first production airplane in their own factory with the help of EAA homebuilders around the world.”

Meet the pilots, talk to the ground crew and find out how you or your chapter can get involved. Visit to learn more. 

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