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Ed Yeates ReportingA Utah replica of an historic aircraft got special recognition today as President Bush commemorated both the 4th of July and the 100 year anniversary of powered flight.
At Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio today, President Bush joined with others commemorating a centennial. One hundred years ago Orville and Wilbur Wright made history with the first controlled flight of an aircraft. Two years later they built and flew another machine from a base near Dayton, Ohio.
Now, a century later, a graphite and kevlar replica of that Wright Flyer, built by Utah State University engineering students, is making history again here in Utah where it flew for the first time four months ago.
This week it's flying again over Dayton, for the 100-year celebration of powered flight.
Former Utah senator and astronaut Jake Garn flew the flyer over Huffman Prairie Field--the same testing ground the Wright brothers used between 1904 and 1905.
E.J. “Jake” Garn, Former U.S. Senator: "Made it a little hard to fly. I was getting a little bit tearful when I was going down the runway to think of that history because my father was a pilot in World War One and got his wings just 13 years after the Wright brothers."
This morning President Bush came to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, his limousine passing by the Utah built replica. In the crowd he shook hands with some members of the USU team. At the podium he talked of independence, freedom, and flight.
President Bush: "I wonder what Wilbur and Orville would have thought if they saw the flying machine I came in on today."
Over the next few days two of the grandchildren of the Wright brothers hope to ride in the USU replica. And tomorrow, Jake Garn, a Republican, and former senator and astronaut John Glenn, a democrat, will pilot and co-pilot the flyer -- proving, as they claim, "that a right wing and a left wing can fly together."
USU students spent two years and more than 10-thousand hours building the Wright Flyer replica. It will remain in Dayton for the "Inventing Flight Celebration" through July 20th.