Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Wright Bros. Monument

You knew the Wright Brothers took their first flight in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., right?

Even though they were born and raised in Ohio?

(The brothers developed their flight theories and prototypes in Ohio.  When they were 
ready to test their aircraft they decided they needed a location that fit 3 requirements: 1) Soft place to land 2) Good wind speeds, 3) No trees or visual obstructions. They wrote to the US Weather... Place... for the top 5 windiest cities, and Kill Devil Hills, N.C. was the only city that fit all their specs.)

Their first flight in their self-designed motorized aircraft was on December 17, 1903.  

You may not realize, though, that their next obsession was developing a glider plane: a flying craft without a motor.  They developed one of those, then returned to Kill Devil Hills for their demo.  The brothers and four local volunteers carried the craft to the top of a hill and pushed it off, resulting in the first soaring flight in history: 9 min. and 45 sec. long. 

And so a tradition of American Soaring was born.  

The inaugural flight took place on October 24, 1911; 
100 years ago from the date we happened to be in town. 

Boy, people really like to celebrate these centennials! 

The grounds of the first flight and first soar have been made into a wonderful monument to the inventors.  
Included is a life-size statue of the motorized plane and the local men who volunteered to see it off.

Also included is a giant monument on the hill where the first soar took place.  
(There are even placards on the grass of the hill asking patrons to stick to the sidewalk to preserve the "historic" hill.)

The strip of field where the first flight took place includes small monuments at each of the four flights' landing spots
(The brothers flipped a coin to see who would fly first.  Orville flew for a few seconds then came down.  Wilbur's turn.  Orville's turn.  Then the wind picked up and their fourth flight of the day was in the air for over a minute! Thus four successful flights in one day. The brothers were excited to celebrate after the length of the fourth flight and left the place unattended.  A gust of wind came by and destroyed the place a moment later. Hahahaha....)

Because this was the centennial weekend of the first soaring flight, many soaring enthusiasts from around the country (they have clubs and everything) came to town to fly (soar) their own planes on the grounds of the first soar. 

It was a really fortuitous weekend to be there! It was really educational and interesting.  
Plus, we loved talking to the professional pilots and seeing them fly and land their planes up-close.
And the exhibits were really great, too!

Lucky things just happen to us.

*Side note....*

October's Visiting Teaching message was on how every righteous woman can be a huge influence to the people around her.  That reminded me a lot of the Wright Brother's mom and sister. 
The brothers questioned human flight after receiving a toy kite from their dad as children.  They were obsessed ever since with many different scientific experiments and inventions, ultimately leading to the first powered aircraft.  They were home schooled by their college-educated mother, and constantly encouraged by her to continue their experiments.
They routinely caused messes and headaches inside and outside, but their mom always encouraged them to keep going, even when they wanted to give up.
After their mother's death their sister took over as caregiver in the house and continued their mother's example-- always encouraging her brothers to push themselves harder and realize their dreams. 
After learning about the Brother's history, Ben and I discussed how opportunity, place, and timing are paramount to the world's greatest minds and inventions. We agreed that the Brothers would probably not have achieved what they had without the education, opportunity, and encouragement from their mother and sister. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the history lesson - what a cool time to be in the OBX!


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