Replicas of Wright gliders, Lilienthal biplane to soar over Jockey’s Ridge

Watch replicas of the Lilienthal Biplane and 1902 Wright Gliders soar side-by-side over the sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head. [Courtesy Kitty Hawk Kites]

This weekend, see history come to life at Kitty Hawk Kites’ Innovators of Aviation showcase featuring replicas of the Lilienthal biplane and 1902 Wright Gliders soaring side-by-side over the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

Otto Lilienthal began his first test flights in 1891 on an artificial hill that he built near Berlin, Germany. He patented over 25 aeronautical designs including numerous monoplanes, biplanes, and wing-flapping aircraft. 125 years later, the Otto Lilienthal Museum and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) came together to build a replica of the Normalsegelapparat, the normal glider, Lilienthal’s final biplane design.

The replica underwent extensive tests to ensure its stability and maneuverability in one of the world’s largest and most advanced wind tunnels, the German-Dutch Wind Tunnel in Emmeloord, Holland. Thus in 2016, the DLR was able to confirm that Otto Lilienthal was the “world’s first aviator” after the replica glider successfully passed those tests. In late July of this year Dr. Markus Raffel, who works at the DLR, traveled to California with the replica glider to perform the first free flights.

The Wright brothers, who pioneered aviation in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, described Lilienthal as “without a doubt our greatest predecessor.” In 1900, Orville and Wilbur Wright began building their Wright Glider prototypes using their homemade wind tunnel in Dayton, Ohio.

Their third free-flight glider was brought to Kill Devil Hills in 1902 and successfully flew over 700 times. This led to the design of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the first motorized aircraft. In 2003, the Wright Experience built the first functioning replica of the 1902 Wright Glider for the Discovery of Flight Foundation to celebrate the 100th anniversary of powered flight.

The Wright Experience, the Discovery of Flight Foundation, and Kitty Hawk Kites Flight School came together in 2011 to share the legacy of the Wright Brothers with the world by creating the opportunity to fly the replica 1902 Wright Glider at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Kitty Hawk Kites still offers this one-of-a-kind experience to become one of the few in the world to ever fly this glider just as the Wright Brothers did.

On Saturday, Dec. 14 at 11 a.m., Kitty Hawk Kites will present a short lecture series on the aircraft. Speaking on the Lilienthal Glider is Markus Raffel, Department Head of the Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology at the DLR.

On Sunday, Dec. 15 starting at 11 a.m, witness attempts to fly each aircraft. The Lilienthal Glider will be piloted by Andrew Beem of Windsports Hang Gliding in Los Angeles, and the 1902 Wright Glider will be piloted by instructors from Kitty Hawk Kites Flight School

Sunday, Dec. 15, these two revolutionary aircraft will come together as the Lilienthal biplane glider and the 1902 Wright Glider replicas take flight on the Jockey’s Ridge State Park sand dunes starting at 11 a.m.

The flight demonstrations are weather dependent, please call the flight school at 252-441-2426 for more details.

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