The full-scale replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer suspended in the atrium of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library was conceived and built by a dedicated group of volunteer model makers, mechanics, engineers, woodworkers, and seamstresses under the leadership of Howard R. DuFour. It began as a dream some eighteen years ago when Howard DuFour became fascinated with the construction of the engine that powered the 1903 Wright Flyer. Assisted by WSU retirees Rubin Battino and Jim Arehart, Howard set out to discover just how Charles Taylor built the engine.
After years of research and oral history interviews, Howard, with Peter Unitt, published Charles E. Taylor: The Wright Brothers Mechanician in 1997. In addition to unlocking the secrets of the engine's construction, Howard dreamed of building a replica of the Wright Brothers original 1903 airplane and hanging it in the atrium of the library.
The building of the 1903 Wright Flyer replica began in the fall of 1999 when grant funding made Howard's dream possible. The National Composite Center at the Kettering Business Park donated space for the project. With the help of friends and volunteers, all of the necessary tools and equipment were obtained. The first piece of the plane was made on December 7, 1999, in honor of Pearl Harbor Day.
Howard and seventeen dedicated volunteers worked tirelessly for the next two years. After over 4,000 hours of volunteer time, this close-knit group completed the 1903 Wright Flyer replica on September 4, 2001. As the plane made its ascent in the library atrium, Howard DuFour's dream of a lasting monument to the two brothers who invented powered flight and for whom Wright State University is named, became a reality.
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