Smithsonian Showcases 3D Wright Flyer Exhibit

A new 3D display of the Wright Flyer, credited as the airplane that achieved the first powered flight in December 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, has been added to the downtown campus of the Smithsonian Institution. The Wright Flyer was scanned using a 3D laser, which produces a highly detailed and accurate image of the object. From that scan, a company called API Services created the 3D model.

The 3D Wright Flyer exhibit is part of the Smithsonian X 3D collection, which provides a very detailed look at objects. Along with the scanned 3D image, the display includes what the Smithsonian calls the X 3D explorer, which the Smithsonian developed together with San Francisco-based Autodesk. X 3D explorer allows visitors to rotate the objects on the screen, take measurements between selected points and adjust the color and lighting of the image. The system also includes guided tours.

The 3D technology allows for use of the Smithsonian's wide collection outside the confines of the museum walls, as the data is made available for educators to download. X 3D will provide access to more of the Smithsonian's 137 million objects, of which only one percent is on display at 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo. In addition to the Wright Flyer project, notable objects in the X 3D collection that are on display include the Cassiopeia A Supernova Remnant at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, a fossil whale at the National Museum of Natural History, and a Cosmic Buddha the Freer and Sackler galleries.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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