February 9, 2004
The Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force has announced the opening of “Early Flight: A Special Retrospective Celebrating the Centennial of Flight,” at its Museum located at historic Falcon Field, in Mesa, Arizona. The Exhibit spotlights the accomplishments and contributions of four key pioneers of early powered flight: the Americans, Wilbur and Orville Wright and Glen Hammond Curtiss; and the Frenchman, Louis Bleriot.
The Wrights were credited with the first controlled flight of a powered aircraft, when their invention, the Flyer, rose briefly into the skies over Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. Curtiss, a leading competitor of the Wrights, brought forward his own ideas for controlling an airplane in flight, including the aileron (French for “small wing”) which nearly 100 years later remains a universal feature on most modern aircraft. Across the Atlantic at this same time, the Frenchman Bleriot, proved the reliability and endurance of powered aircraft by being the first to fly 22 miles across the English Channel from Calais to Dover in 1909. Five short years later, the French were scouting the battlefields of France in airplanes derived from Bleriot's designs; and just some thirty years later, German and Allied aircraft routinely navigated this same route to attack one another’s installations on both sides of the English Channel and beyond.
The Exhibit is centered upon exquisite one-quarter and one-sixth scale replicas of these historic aircraft produced by Arizona Model Aircrafters, of Scottsdale, Arizona (“AMA”). AMA specializes in manufacturing full size historical aircraft replicas and flying model kits and was the official model maker for the First Flight Foundation and the recent 100-year Centennial of Flight celebration activities.
Visitors to the Exhibit will learn the principles of early flight and the distinguishing contributions made by each of these pioneers and their inventions, as well as the fascinating stories surrounding their successes and failures.
The Arizona Wing CAF is an all-volunteer organization devoted to the restoration and preservation of historic aircraft that participated in the great military conflicts of the Twentieth Century. Because of its association with the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission in Washington, D.C., the Arizona Wing Museum has broadened the scope of its exhibits to include the early days of the 1900’s that are the watershed from which modern aircraft emerged. The Early Flight Exhibit continues the celebration of flight in Arizona that the Arizona Wing coordinated with the Centennial Commission in Nov. and Dec., 2003 at the Arizona Centennial of Flight Exhibition at Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix. Arizona Model Aircrafters’ replicas were a popular feature of that event.
The exhibition is currently open at the Arizona Wing CAF Museum, located at 2017 N. Greenfield Road, at the intersection with of McKellips Road in Mesa, Arizona. The Museum is open seven days a week, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children under 14 years of age. Free admission for children under 6 years of age. Contact the Arizona Wing CAF Museum at (480) 924-1940 for further details. All proceeds are used to support the Museum and its restoration and preservation of historic aircraft and aviation- related memorabilia.