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Wright brothers' wing fragment to take flight again on Mars

A fragment of the wing covering from the Wright Flyer I, the plane used by Wilbur and Orville Wright for their first successful flight in 1903, is due to be a part of aviation history again when it is carried into the skies of Mars by NASA's Ingenuity helicopter. Photo courtesy of Carillon Historical Park
A fragment of the wing covering from the Wright Flyer I, the plane used by Wilbur and Orville Wright for their first successful flight in 1903, is due to be a part of aviation history again when it is carried into the skies of Mars by NASA's Ingenuity helicopter. Photo courtesy of Carillon Historical Park

March 24 (UPI) -- A piece of cloth from the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903 is set to become part of aviation history again -- this time on Mars.

Carillon Historical Park, the Ohio home of the Wright Brothers National Museum, said NASA officials got in contact in 2019 about finding a way to connect Wilbur and Orville Wright's first successful flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C., with the first heavier-than-air flight on Mars.

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The museum provided a small fragment of the Wright Flyer I's wing covering to be carried aboard Ingenuity, a small helicopter attached to the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover on the surface of the red planet.

NASA said Ingenuity is expected to take its first flight sometime after April 8. The flight will mark the first-ever powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, NASA said.

The use of the Wright Flyer I's wing covering for the mission received the blessing of Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright, Wilbur and Orville's great grand-niece and nephew.

"Wilbur and Orville Wright would be pleased to know that a little piece of their 1903 Wright Flyer I, the machine that launched the Space Age by flying barely one quarter of a mile, is going to soar into history again on Mars," the family said in a statement.

A fragment from the Wright Flyer I's wing covering was previously carried to the moon by Neil Armstrong in 1969. Another fragment was taken into space by John Glenn during a trip on the space shuttle in 1998.

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