Friday, November 3, 2017

Wright Brothers National Monument - Big Kill Devil Hill, NC

Wright Brothers National Monument - Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

(Please click on any photo in this blog entry to enlarge the photo and be taken to a slideshow of them)

The Wright Brothers National Monument recognizes and honors the Wright brothers for their achievements and relentless pursuit to invent and fly an aircraft that was controllable and travel under it's own power.

If you went to grade school you've no doubt read or studied about the achievement of the Wright Brothers. The two brothers from Ohio that ran a bicycle shop while they dreamed of mastering the still just-out-of-reach achievement of flight. For years, the Wright Brothers designed intricate plans and blueprints out of the their small bicycle shop before heading to the town of Kitty Hawk in 1900. This coastal town, they determined, had the ideal conditions for testing their 
     gliders,with towering sand dunes and consistent winds to assist with the initial launching 

They conducted tests with a state of the art hanger, shop and living quarters at Big Kill Devil Hill in North Carolina. The "Hill" was a massive sand dune and was the place they chose to conduct experiments in a machine that was built to achieve manned flight. Library of Congress

The Brothers made hundreds of test flights using their model as a kite to test control surface warping which was the precursor to controlled flight.  They used Big Kill Devil Hill and the consistent higher winds to perfect wing lift and the control surfaces necessary to make manned flight achievable.. 

On December 17 1903 Wilbur and Orville make the first free, controlled, and sustained flights in a power-driven, heavier-than-air machine. Three men from the Kill Devil Life Saving Station and two from Nags Head witness the four trial flights. First trial is made by Orville at 10:35 A.M., stays twelve seconds in the air, and flies 120 feet. John T. Daniels photographs the first flight with Orville’s camera. Wilbur makes the longest flight in the fourth trial, fifty-nine seconds in the air and 852 feet. Source: Wright Brothers National Monument

At the National Monument there is a stainless steel statue that is an approximation of the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer. It was built by sculpter Stephen H. Smith

Wilbur Wright was the first man to fly a heavier than air machine under it's own power

Orville wrote in his diary: "When we got up, a wind of between 20 and 25 miles was blowing from the north.
We got the machine out early and put out the signal for the men at the station. Before we were quite ready, John T. Daniels, W. S. Dough, A. D. Etheridge, W. C. Brinkley of Manteo, and Johnny Moore of Nags Head arrived."

Source: Eyewitness to
Watching History in the making

After running the engine and propellers a few minutes to get them in working order, I got on the machine at 10:35 for the first trial. The wind, according to our anemometers at this time, was blowing a little over 20 miles (corrected) 27 miles according to the Government anemometer at Kitty Hawk. On slipping the rope the machine started off increasing in speed to probably 7 or 8 miles. The machine lifted from the truck just as it was entering on the fourth rail. Mr. Daniels took a picture just as it left the tracks. Daniels had never used a camera before.   Source: McFarland, Marvin, The Papers of Wilbur & Orville Wright

The distance of the first flight distance was less than the wing span of a modern 747 Jumbo Jet. But they had done it. 

The monument to the Wright Brothers achievements was begun in 1929 with the stabilization of the large dune known as Big Kill Devil Hill. Native grasses were planted in preparation for the erection of the Monument. 

Orville, Wilbur and Amelia Earhart at the Commemoration ceremony 
12 Seconds That Changed the World Forever

Get off the Ground They Did!

This was a trip worth making. Even though the Visitors Center is closed for remodeling right now there is just something about being at the very place where controlled and powered flight began. It is an awesome place.

The twelve seconds that changed the world forever

Imagine the exhilaration and sense of achievement that the Wrights must have had during those first flights.

They knew it was the first time in history of mankind that anyone had ever flown in a heavier than air machine under it's own power making the machine go where they steered it.

Big Kill Devil Hill with the Wright Monument on Top

I hope we've inspired you to visit the Wright Brothers National Monument. For me, standing in the very place that modern powered flight started was one of those goose pimple moments. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are encouraged. Please let us know how we are doing.

Our most recent blog

"Stick Em Up" - Old Tucson Studio and Theme Park

High Chapparral Ranch Set Admittedly I'm old. How old? Let's just say I hold the patent on dirt. I grew up in the 50's whe...