Monday, June 9, 2003

Re-created sculpture honors Wrights



The Associated Press

DAYTON - A sculpture honoring Wilbur and Orville Wright will end up in a Dayton park later this month, but for now, it's sitting in a field 30 miles away.

The 24-foot "Goddess of Flight" no longer fits inside the studio of sculptor Mike Major, so he has moved it behind his home, a renovated 1800s church in the Champaign County village of Westville.

"She looks like she belongs here," Major said. "But she represents an important part of history and she's destined for greater things than my back field."

Later this month, crews will take apart the fiberglass-and-wood sculpture and take the 12 sections to Dayton, where it will be reassembled to join the living-history portion of the city's centennial celebration of the Wrights' first powered flight.

The flight took place Dec. 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, N.C. The Wrights designed the aircraft in their bicycle shop in Dayton and did most of their work afterward there.

The original sculpture was part of a 1909 parade and celebration honoring the Wrights, which will be re-enacted in July at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton. A lighted colonnade connected four "Goddess of Flight" sculptures along the city's main street, park spokeswoman Sharon Smith said.

The "Goddess," a toga-wrapped, 12-foot-tall figure with a billowing cape, encircles a globe in her left arm and holds aloft the Wright's airplane with the other.

The originals probably were made of plaster, Smith said. They were stored after the celebration and eventually lost. Researchers think they were destroyed in the devastating 1913 flood of the Great Miami River.

The park commissioned Major, 53, to re-create the sculpture. Starting in January, Major used a photograph from the parade to do the work. The replica, lighter and more weather-resistant than its predecessors, weighs 150 pounds.




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