The last Flying Machine at Kitty Hawk- 1911
Eight years after Wilbur and Orville Wright first proved that controlled powered flight was possible, Orville Wright return to Kitty Hawk to conduct new experiments with flight, in a new non-powered glider. Orville’s flights in October of 1911 where some of the world’s most dramatic glider flights ever seen by man. Not only did they deepen man’s understanding of flight; they also served as the birth recreational sport of “Soaring”. To commemorate this historic event, Wright Brothers National Memorial and Jockey's Ridge State Park will be hosting a very special event “Soaring 100” from October 21-24 2011.
This event is being organized by a partnership of five aviation groups including the Soaring Society of America, the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, the National Soaring Museum and the Vintage Sailplane Association.
In October of 1911, Orville returned to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with his brother Lorin and nephew Horace. His friend and fellow pilot Alec Ogilvie from Great Britain joined the party and together they made many gliders flights from the great Kill Devil dunes. These flights would be the Wrights’ last experiments at Kitty Hawk. Orville loved to fly but safety improvements were also on Orville’s mind. He had hopes of testing his automatic stabilizer, but newspaper reporters joined them each day during the stay so Orville didn’t bring it out. Between October 16 and 26 Orville made about 90 glides from Big Kill Devil Hill and West Hill. Most of these glides were made into winds 35 miles per hour and even higher.
On October 24, 1911, flying in a 50 mile per hour wind Orville set a world’s soaring record of 9 minutes and 45 seconds in the air, never traveling more than 120 feet the same distance as the first powered flight covered 8 years earlier. Orville’s record would stand internationally until 1921 and for the next 18 years until 1929 in America.
More details about the celebration will emerge in the coming months. For additional information, or to volunteer and participate in the event please visit www.soaring100.com or www.firstflightfoundation.org
Did You Know?
Big Kill Devil Hill actually moved 450 feet to the southwest during the 25 years from the Wrights' first flight in 1903 until 1928, when the park was established.