1903 Wright Flyer (Model)

As part of the Museum’s Adopt-a-Plane program, the 1903 Wright Flyer (Model) is adopted by Dan and Gena Hamilton.
Welcoming visitors into the Museum’s Main Gallery is an exceptional full-size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer. The permanent exhibit marks the first flight of a piloted, controlled, powered, heavier-than-air machine in sustained flight. After four years of research and development, Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully flew their first powered airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer, on 17 December 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville Wright piloted the first flight, lasting only 12 seconds and traveling 120 ft. Wilbur took the controls on the last of three flights that historic December day and flew 852 feet in 59 seconds.

Did you know?

The Wright Brothers’ interest in flight began in childhood when their father brought them a rubber band powered toy helicopter from a trip to France.

Before the brothers could make the final flight, heavy wind flipped the 1903 Wright Flyer several times, and it never flew again. 

About our Aircraft

The Museum’s full-size model of the 1903 Wright Flyer is constructed out of wood and fabric. As a reminder of the birth of aviation, this model is the cornerstone of the Museum’s Early Flight Gallery. Also in the gallery is a rendition of the Wright Brothers’ shed, a favorite photo stop for visitors as they enter the Museum.

STEM Challenge

How did the Wright Brothers manually move the parts of the 1903 Wright Flyer in order to successfully manipulate the necessary four forces of flight? 
More challenges...
Wright Flyer Vintage Photo
Image Credit: Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
1903 Wright Flyer Diagram
Image Credit: NASA, Glenn Research Center