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you're giving a report or presentation on the Wright brothers, there
are few things more impressive than having a model of the Wright
Flyer on hand to help illustrate the points you're making. This is
especially true if you've built the model yourself. The
trick is getting the right model kit. There are a lot of Wright
Flyer kits out there, and some are better suited for presentations
If you need a static (non-flying) model, Easy Built Models offers
two detailed balsa-wood-and-tissue-paper kits for a model with
a 24-inch wingspan (about 1:20 scale). These are absolutely the best
kits for demonstrations and presentations for the simple reason that
they are built exactly like the Wright Flyer was built (only
somewhat smaller, of course.) You can point out the ribs, spars,
struts, rudder, elevator, engine, propellers
– all the major parts on the
model match the parts on the real thing. If you want to add even
more detail, you can consult the plans we've included below. An
experienced modeler can, in fact, build this up to be a museum
quality Flyer model with some extra research and effort.
Another feature that recommends this model are the detailed,
illustrated instructions that come with it. There dozens of color
photographs that show you just what to do, step by step. The kits
also includes full-size templates for the subassemblies (wings,
skids, elevator, and so on). You simply tack the templates to a
board, then glue the subassemblies together right over the
templates. The combination of detailed instructions and full-size
templates makes the construction relatively easy, even for
first-time and inexperienced modelers. The only thing thing we
thought the kits lacked was a good rigging plan. The plan provided
is not just basic, it's inaccurate. And it makes no attempt to
distinguish between rigging and control wires. But it's an easy fix
– download the measured drawings
offered below and use them to rig the model.
Both kits will result in exactly the same model; the difference
is how the wooden parts are delivered.
less expensive kit provides balsa wood with the parts
printed on the wood. You must cut them out yourself, a
more expensive kit provides the balsa wood with the part
already laser-cut, saving you a good deal of tedious work.
This model was built by Thomas Havens from the kit with printed
The engine and cockpit area of this laser-cut kit show some
wonderful details that were added by the builder, Andrew Sanchez.
You'll find many more photos from builders on the Easy Built Models
Plastic – Revell (formally Revell Monogram) offers a detailed plastic 1/39 scale model Wright Flyer,
with a wingspan of just over 12 inches. It's not as impressive as
the Easy Built model, nor does it's construction mirror the real
Flyer. For example, you cannot point out the ribs and the spars in
the wings -- they are just sheet of molded plastic. But it is
a good deal simpler to build than a balsa-wood-and-tissue-paper
model, and it's less expensive. It also offers a launch track,
figures of Orville and Wilbur, and some of the tools that were laying
around in the sand that you can see in the famous photograph taken
of the first flight.
You cannot buy these models directly from Revell, but you can
find them at many hobby suppliers on the Internet. We suggest you
Scale Hobbyist first, since they carry a large inventory of
historic models. If they are out-of-stock, google "Revell Flyer
Model." or search
The Revell plastic Flyer model, assembled and painted.
RC and Rubber-Band – By far, the best and most detailed flying
models of the Wright Flyer are from Dare Design, a well-respected
name in wooden models. Dare offers two laser-cut model kits for the 1903 Wright Flyer,
both of which are designed to be
These flying models were developed by Pat Tritle, a veteran
model-designer with talent and tenacity the would make Will and Orv
envious. Pat has graciously contributed a page to our web site that
describes how he developed the RC Flyer. To read Pat's piece, click
Pat Tritle's radio-controlled model of the 1903 Wright Flyer.
The rubber band-powered version.
Toothpicks and Paper – That's right, toothpicks! Rob Elliott, proprietor of Booger Red's Books,
is the inventor and designer of a "Toothpick Air Force." Bob
makes tiny, delightful flying models, no bigger than your
finger, from paper and toothpicks. Several years ago, Rob sent us a 1902 Wright
Glider, a 1905 Wright Flyer 3, and a 1911 Wright Model B in a greeting
card box. He doesn't sell kits, but he does make plans available. The
plans for the Wright models I just mentioned are in a book called The
First Flyers, available from Rob's company. In fact, there are 22
pioneer airplane models here, including the June Bug, a Voison, a
Bleriot 12, a Curtiss Model D, a Deperdussin, and
just about ever other important aircraft from the years between 1902 and
1914. You can purchase The
First Flyers from:
Booger Red's Books, Inc.
P.O. Drawer G
Clifton, CO 81520
Rob has also recreated toothpick versions of two of the Wrights'
experimental airplanes, the 1902 glider and the 1903 Flyer. You can demonstrate the
invention of the airplane – or the entire history of pioneer
aviation – using his models. Rob has thoughtfully posted the
plans for his experimental Wright aircraft, plus instructions and
tip for building and flying the models, on the
Centennial of Flight web site.
By the way, "Booger Red" was a slang term for "undertaker" in the
American West where Rob lives.
The Toothpick Airforce's 1903 Wright Flyer.
Rob has also written The Toothpick
Airforce, which contain plans for both historic and modern
tiny aircraft replicas..
Scratch – If you want to build your own model from
scratch, you'll need a set of measured drawings. You may also need
drawings if you want to add detail or accuracy to a model made from
a commercial kit. Heck, you may just need a set of plans for
research or to satisfy your own curiosity. The plans to the right
should answer those needs. Left-click on the thumbnail and wait for
the large image to load. Then right-click on the large image
and choose "Save Image As" from the drop-down menu that appears.
Measured drawings of the 1903 Wright Flyer, Plate 1 (top view).
Measured drawings of the 1903 Wright Flyer, Plate 2 (front and side