Wright Flyer Replica: New Gateway into Montgomery


By Heather VacLav

From here on out, if you're travelling through Montgomery on I-65, you'll want to look for the city's new welcome sign: a life size Wright Flyer replica. 

With the 40-foot wing span, it will appear as if the plane is flying over the bluff and onto the interstate.

Thursday the city installed the iconic gateway at the new Wright Brother's Park, once Overlook Park, in downtown Montgomery.

Up close, it's almost an exact replica, in every sense of the word, except instead of wood, it's made out of steel.

"I think at first people are going to think, ' What is that?' but I think it's going to be something really neat to see," said Rachael Pike of Montgomery.

It's not just an airplane, it's a historic Montgomery landmark, created originally by the famous Wright Brothers who started the nation's first aviation training school in 1910 at what's now Maxwell Air Force Base.

"We need to celebrate and reclaim that history and to have something that people can see," said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

"It's a pride factor for us, we have something now that a lot of people would like to have, but no body does have," he said.

What makes it so special is the incoming view from I-65 South, and many people in Montgomery are excited about it.

"I think it's pretty cool, I think that once you're coming down 65 and see this plane, I think it's going to be really nice to come into Montgomery and see the Wright Brother's Plane," said Amanda Welch of Pike County.

Burt Steel Inc. of Montgomery was hired to create and install the Wright Flyer. Lee Burt, shop foreman, thinks his crew put in about one thousand hours of man power over the past year from start to finish.

"Every little part on [the Wright Brothers] plane we have on this plane," Burt said. "Honestly there's going to be some details that people will not be able to see, but they're there."

And they're there for a reason, to pay tribute to the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers, bringing the Wright Flyer to its natural home in Wright Brothers Park, Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace for civil aviation.

While it's exciting to get to this point, Mayor Strange says there's sill a lot to go until the park opens to the public July 2nd.

The city still has to add inside lane street parking to Maxwell Boulevard, narrowing the four lane road to two driving lanes.

Even though the city hired Burt Steel, to create the flyer, upon instillation, Burt Steel decided to donate the nearly $45,000 Wright Flyer project to the Riverfront Foundation.


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