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Replica made to honor first fliers

John and Stanley Brosky first became interested in flying as children. Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of St. Louis was all it took to fire the brothers’ fascination with flight.

Wednesday, the two made the trip to Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland to honor the world’s most famous flying siblings, the Wright brothers.

In front of a crowd of spectators young and old, university officials and builders from the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Co. unveiled a working replica of the Wrights’ first powered plane.

“This is really great,” said John Brosky, 83, of Scott. “Looking at this makes you just wonder how the Wright Brothers ever flew this. It’s really something.”

The ceremony was a joint effort between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight on Dec. 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, N.C. It was the first of three events held by the schools to celebrate the anniversary and to commemorate Pittsburgh’s role in aviation history.

Arthur Davidson, one of the program’s coordinators from Carnegie Mellon, said the hard work immediately paid off when the first preschoolers came to look at the plane.

“When we saw the looks on their faces, it was just amazing,” he said. “Seeing their reaction made the work worthwhile.”

The replica took six months to build. It is constructed from spruce and ash, the same wood used by the Wright brothers.

Building the plane was no easy task, said Nick Engler, director and chief builder of Wright Brothers Aeroplane Co., but watching people enjoy the finished product made the labor worth it. Engler spent much of the morning talking with awe-struck spectators about the plane and the Wright brothers.

“This really feels great,” he said as he surveyed a group of children examining the plane. “We didn’t build this to fly, we built it for inspiration.”

The replica will make its maiden flight on Oct. 6 in Kitty Hawk, N.C.


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