Carl White’s Life in the Carolinas

Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, commemorates the first successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine. From 1900 to 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright came here from Dayton, Ohio, based on information from the U.S. Weather Bureau about the area’s steady winds. They also valued the privacy provided by this location, which in the early twentieth century was remote from major population centers.

The Wrights made four flights from level ground near the base of the hill on December 17, 1903, in the Wright Flyer, following three years of gliding experiments from atop this and other nearby sand dunes. It is possible to walk along the actual routes of the four flights, with small monuments marking their starts and finishes. Two wooden sheds, based on historic photographs, recreate the world’s first airplane hangar and the brothers’ living quarters.

The Visitor Center is home to a museum featuring models and actual tools and machines used by the Wright brothers during their flight experiments including a reproduction of the wind tunnel used to test wing shapes and a portion of the engine used in the first flight. In one wing of the Visitor Center is a life-size replica of the Wright brothers’ 1903 Wright Flyer, the first powered heavier-than-air aircraft in history to achieve controlled flight (the original being displayed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.). A full-scale model of the Brothers’ 1902 glider is also present, having been constructed under the direction of Orville Wright himself. Adorning the walls of the glider room are portraits and photographs of other flight pioneers throughout history.

The visitor center’s Modern design was a departure from the National Park Service’s earlier, more traditional buildings, and was built as part of its “Mission 66” modernization and expansion program. As the first major building of that effort, it was a high-profile success, bringing critical notice for its Modern design and launching the careers of its designers. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975 for its architecture and its importance to the Park Service’s program.

A 60 feet (18.29 m) granite monument, dedicated in 1932, is perched atop 90-foot-tall (27 m) Kill Devil Hill, commemorating the achievement of the Wright brothers. They conducted many of their glider tests on the massive shifting dune that was later stabilized to form Kill Devil Hill. Inscribed in capital letters along the base of the memorial tower is the phrase “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by genius achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.” Atop the tower is a marine beacon, similar to one found in a lighthouse.

The doors of the tower are stainless steel over nickel, with a price of $3,000 in 1928 (equivalent to $35,818 in 2019[7]). The six relief panels represent the conquest of the air.

Source – Wikipedia