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Contact: Wright Brothers National Memorial, (252) 441-7430
104th Anniversary Ceremony to Salute Wilbur and Orville Wright's First Powered Flight
It lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. The very first powered flight achieved by Wilbur and Orville Wright near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903 changed the course of history and reshaped the future. The 104th anniversary of the first flight will be celebrated at Wright Brothers National Memorial on Monday, December 17, 2007. This event is presented by the local Outer Banks communities, the First Flight Society and the National Park Service.
The observance will start at 8:30 a.m. with a small wreath laying ceremony at the exact spot where the famous flights occurred. Descendents of the witnesses that assisted the Wright brothers with the flights will pay homage to the Wrights and the ancestor witnesses to the first flight. This pre-program segment starts at the Wright Brothers Visitor Center.
The formal program begins at 9 a.m. in the First Flight Centennial Pavilion, preceded by a patriotic musical prelude presented by the Northeastern High School Band from Elizabeth City, NC. Students from the Dare County Wright Flight Program will lead the Pledge of Allegiance - the Wright Flight Program challenges 5th graders to establish and achieve set academic goals.
This year’s distinguished guest speaker is, U.S. Air Force Lt. General James N. Soligan, who is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Transformation, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation; followed by brief remarks from representatives of the National Park Service, First Flight Society, Dare County and local elected officials.
Dennis Bushnell Senior Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center and Dr. Tom D. Crouch, Senior Curator Division of Aeronautics Smithsonian Institution, will pay tribute to Richard T. Whitcomb, the 2007 Paul A Garber Shrine inductee. Mr. Whitcomb, a NASA aeronautical engineer, developed the supercritical airfoil and the winglets seen frequently in modern airliners that reduce fuel consumption.
The annual aircraft flyby will commence at 10:35 a.m. - the documented exact moment of the Wrights' first flight. Military aircraft participation includes the United States Coast Guard Elizabeth City Coast Guard Air Base flying the C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft and HH-60 Jay Hawk search and rescue/special mission helicopters. The United States Navy Oceana Air Station Virginia Beach will fly the F-18 Hornets and CH-46 helicopters. The F-15E Strike Eagle from the United States Air Force Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will fly a two-ship formation to conclude the flyby.
From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., a special kite building and flying program will take place at the Centennial Pavilion. Throughout the day, children are welcome to participate in the park’s Junior Flight Ranger program to earn a Flight Ranger patch by attending one ranger program and completing the Junior Flight Ranger booklet. The park’s museum exhibits, park ranger talks and activities throughout the day will provide a lively atmosphere for enjoyable learning about one of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century.