The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

December 17, 2013

10 feet off the ground

OTTUMWA — Orville and Wilbur Wright weren't your common, everyday bicycle builders, said a local pilot at Ottumwa Regional Airport.

"The Wright brothers weren't 'average' people," said pilot Tom Palen of Ottumwa.

There's no question he admires the thought and courage they put into that first flight near Kitty Hawk, N.C., 110 years ago.

"What they were doing was pretty wicked stuff for their day," said Palen, who has been a pilot for 30 years.

On Tuesday, he drove out to the airport just north of town, got in a small plane at Ottumwa Flying Service and prepared to take off at exactly 10:35 a.m. to pay tribute to the brothers flying the first heavier-than-air aircraft. There were virtually no clouds in the blue sky.

"The great thing about today is how much it [is similar to] that day, " he said. "Their winds were gusting to 27 mph, our winds are 24 gusting to 33 mph, almost the same."

Those winds were more important to the brothers, however. With only 16 horsepower to get them into the air, the brothers needed to use the wind in the same way we might fly a kite — the whipping winds were needed under the wings to help lift the airplane, called the Wright Flyer. On a calm day, said Palen, they never would have gotten into the air, just like on a calm day, the kids can't get a kite into the air.

When the Ottumwa pilot took to the air Tuesday, he only went up 10 feet, just like the "Flyer." He also tried to restrict the distance of his flight to the same as that first flight near Kitty Hawk: 120 feet. It's tough to get a modern plane up and down that fast, however. For the Wright brothers, that distance, about 40 yards on a football field, took 12 seconds. While the wind under the wings was about 35 mph, the aircraft, Palen explained, was traveling just a bit under 7 mph. There's a photo Palen found that appears to show one of the brothers jogging alongside the plane while it's in flight.

Text Only
Ottumwa
  • Parks Dept. has long list of projects

    OTTUMWA — The Parks and Recreation Department has approved a list of capital improvements for the next two years that includes the installation of handicapped-accessible swings and new park bathrooms.

    July 9, 2014

  • 0710 Farmers Market Color Photo 1 -L -M Fresh food improves community

    OTTUMWA — Every summer across the Midwest, food stands pop up on gravel roads, and farmers markets are filled with a variety of home-grown products. Finding a fresh selection of healthy greens and juicy fruits isn't as hard as you might think. Accord

    July 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0703 OTT Heart boy photo A Heartfelt Miracle OTTUMWA — It’s funny how wishes can change so completely in just a few weeks. But laughter wasn’t the reaction of Jeff and Mary Penrod.The Ottumwa couple’s son, Brandon, was 18 years old when, in February, Mary took him to the Pella clinic to get loo

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0703 OTT River Hills parking lot color photo -L -T River Hills expansion progresses

    OTTUMWA — Expanding River Hills Community Health Center downtown continues to be a priority with the Ottumwa City Council. Earlier this week, the council authorized city staff to survey the property, prepare a draft developers agreement as well as pr

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Street repair program begins OTTUMWA — If you think roadwork projects in the city of Ottumwa are just about complete, think again. This week, the Ottumwa City Council awarded its preventative maintenance contract for sealing cracks in asphalt and concrete pavement roads througho

    July 2, 2014

  • A new look OTTUMWA — The 300 block of East Main Street in Ottumwa will be getting a facelift. During a public hearing earlier this week, the Ottumwa City Council gave its OK to the plans and specifications to renovate 15 buildings’ storefronts in downtown Ottum

    July 2, 2014

  • City won't tolerate bad behavior

    OTTUMWA — A newly designed policy to establish standards of behavior was presented to Ottumwa City Council on Tuesday night.The new policy’s introduction on Tuesday, demands city staff and elected officials exhibit professional behavior when they int

    July 1, 2014

  • 0702 OTT library grant color photo -T -L -M Ottumwa Public Library updates genealogy room

    OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Public Library is the recipient of a Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund Grant from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation. The Friends of the Ottumwa Public Library group gave $5,520 to put toward a new microfilm reader. The

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0625 OTT Riverfront Renaissance color photo -L -M Riverfront Renaissance begins mapping out ideas

    OTTUMWA — It was serious work to play with stickers and maps Tuesday evening. Concentration was on more than 70 faces as colored dots found their way up and down several maps of the river flowing through downtown Ottumwa. The Ottumwa Regional Legacy

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0624 OTT Marine photos Marine mourned by family

    OTTUMWA --- Adam Wolff's extended family was able to enjoy a bit of time with him before he deployed. "He came back in March, after his [Marine Corps advanced] schooling in North Carolina," said his sister, Angela Malone. "We had a dinner for him, a

    June 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National