1878 Wright Bat

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In 1878, Bishop Milton Wright brought his sons, Wilbur (age 12) and Orville (age 8) a rubber band-powered helicopter. Such toys are commonplace today, but in 1878 they had only just been invented. The Wright brothers were absolutely captivated. They called it a "bat" because of the unpredictable and erratic way in which it flew, and played with it until they wore it out. Then they began to make their own. Twenty-five years later in 1903, after having made the first controlled and sustained manned flights, they credited this simple toy with having sparked their interest in aviation.

Author/craftsman Nick Engler, a pilot and historian, thoroughly researched this flying toy and the methods and materials the Wright brothers must have used to make it. In this plan, he shows how to make an historically accurate replica. And if you are a science teacher or a student in search of a science project, he shows how to turn this project into a scientific investigation of thrust. And at the very end, he shares some new information about the craftsman who may have made the original helicopter that inspired the Age of Aviation. Includes step-by-step instructions, detailed drawings in both English and metric measurements, and full-size patterns in PDF form.

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