Memories of early aviation relived at ‘Wings’ museum

By Richard Yager….

Fernando Botelho and Amanda Wright Lane are pictured in front of “14 Bis” replica.

The early days of modern flight were relived by two internationally known aviation aficionados during visits to a “Fly-In Weekend,” Oct. 28-29, hosted by the Wings Over Miami Museum at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport.

Amanda Wright Lane, grandniece of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright, flew from the Wrights’ legendary home in Dayton, OH, as part of a mission she has undertaken to help preserve the Wright name as the world’s originators of manned flight and Dayton as its birthplace.

“It all started with my father, a grandson of Lorin, one of the four Wright brothers,” she explained. “After his passing in 1999, for some reason, I changed from a white-knuckler into a love of flying — and I wanted to see that my great-granduncles, Wilbur and Orville, would continue to be appropriately recognized.”

At Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, Lane was joined by Fernando De Arruda Botelho, a Brazilian aviation enthusiast who supports similar recognition for Alberto Santos-Dumont, a native of Brazil who moved to France where he flew the “14-Bis,” a pioneering aircraft of the 1900s decade.

An entrepreneurial pilot and fervent supporter of the Wings Museum, Botelho delighted “Fly-In” audiences by taking a sturdy, one-seat “14-Bis” replica to the air for short overflights of the airport during the weekend.

“I was happy to do so,” beamed Botelho, a part-time Miami resident who is a founder of the Broa Fly-In, an annual fly-in and air show known as the leading aviation fair in Latin America, now planning its 12th annual program, June 22-24, 2012, in Brazil’s Sao Paulo state at the Broa Golf Resort.

His dedication to “The Demoiselle Project” led to reconstruction of replicates of the second airplane designed by his countryman, Dumont, as well as books, exhibits and fly-in appearances in which he regularly participates.

Botelho’s fervent support of the Wings Museum’s goal to preserve aviation history and co-sponsorship of its latest “Fly-In” led to friendly visits with Lane that brought up a century-long background of both the Paris 1907 flights of the 14-Bis and the Wrights’ epic flights on Dec. 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills, NC, the earliest powered flights in the U.S.

“As to which came first, it’s no longer a controversy among most aviation people,” said Lane, who noted the original Wright aircraft hangs in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, well-recognized as the first to meet the modern definition of flight (i.e., manned, powered, heavier-than-air and fully-controllable).

“That particular airplane was known as the ‘03 Flyer’ while the second, known as 05, is on display at a private museum in what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton,” she explained.

“There was an 04 but my great-grand uncles dismantled it for parts so many times that it simply became non-existent. Some of those parts probably exist in the 05 aircraft.”

Surrounded by model replicas of U.S. aviation history as she relaxed in the Wings Museum lobby, the descendant of Lorin Wright (with Reuchlin, brothers of Orville and Wilbur) said, “I never thought of becoming a spokesperson until I attended a seminar in 2003 and began answering questions about the family and its background.

“It’s led to a career of sorts, if only to make sure that the facts are right and the family history is correctly preserved,” added Lane, who serves as trustee for the Wright Family Foundation in Dayton, a charitable fund supporting preservation of aviation history.

Since its inception in 1990, the foundation has donated some $1.4 million to 12 aviation-related organizations with Lane serving as her family’s liaison to such organizations as the Dayton Aviation Heritage Commission and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park.

Would she become a pilot, like Botelho?

“Oh, I dream about it,” she laughed, “Between raising my own family and board meetings, symposiums to attend and other events, I don’t know if there’ll ever be enough time.”

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