Historic Mars Helicopter mission carries Wright Bros. good luck charm

By on March 24, 2021

An illustration of NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter flying on Mars (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)


Sometime soon, but no earlier than April 8, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will make the first attempt at a powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. While Ingenuity will attempt that historic mission, it will carry a memento of the first powered, controlled flight on Earth that took place Dec. 17, 1903 on the windswept dunes of Kill Devil Hill, near Kitty Hawk, NC.

A small amount of the material that covered one of the wings of the Wright brothers’ aircraft, known as the Flyer, during the first flight is now aboard Ingenuity. An insulative tape was used to wrap the small swatch of fabric around a cable located underneath the helicopter’s solar panel. The Wrights used the same type of material – an unbleached muslin called “Pride of the West” – to cover their glider and aircraft wings beginning in 1901.

The Apollo 11 crew flew a different piece of the material, along with a small splinter of wood from the Wright Flyer to the moon and back during their iconic mission in July 1969.





See what people are saying:

  • Travis

    Here’s hoping Ingenuity’s helicopter flies for more than 12 seconds.

    Thursday, Mar 25 @ 9:36 am