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Contact: Outer Banks Group, (252) 473-2111
Superintendent Mike Murray announced today the National Park Service will host an Open House at the Wright Brothers National Memorial on Thursday, November 16, 2006 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm to seek comments from park neighbors and surrounding communities on the possible re-establishment of a commercial air tour concession operation based out of Wright Brothers National Monument. The meeting will be located in the Pavilion and the park entrance fee will be waived for those attending the Open House.
On June 7, 2001, the National Park Service discontinued the Aero Tours concession operation at Wright Brothers National Memorial following a crash landing in the school yard adjacent to the first Flight Elementary School causing injury to three passengers. A number of factors, including the 100th Anniversary of Flight Celebration in December of 2003 contributed to the delay in reissuing a new prospectus for the concession. The prospectus allows prospective tour operators to bid on the right to re-establish the air tour operation at Wright Brothers.
If re-established, the concession operation would provide pilots and small aircraft to give a one-half hour air tour originating at Wright Brothers, following a fixed flight course to the Bodie Island Lighthouse and returning to the Wright Brothers Airfield. While the actual number of daily flights may vary, on busy days they can number 100 flights or more from the Park’s airfield.
As part of the civic engagement process, the National Park Service encourages all park units to participate in an open dialogue with neighbors and surrounding communities when changes are considered or implemented on parklands that may have an affect on those surrounding communities. Park Superintendent Mike Murray noted "It has been a while since anyone re-examined the propriety of conducting an air tour operation based at Wright Brothers. In the past five years, the level of development adjacent to the airfield has changed and I would like to hear from our neighbors and community leaders on the idea of re-establishing this operation. The concession service would provide Park visitors with the unique opportunity, for a fee, of taking a small plane flight from and to the site of the first controlled and powered flight. Aircraft operations have potential effects on air quality and noise levels. We want to consider public input on potential benefits and concerns before deciding whether to proceed."
The Park has established a website for the purpose of providing information about the proposed air tour operation which will also provide the opportunity to submit written comments regarding the proposal. Beginning November 15 and ending December 15, you may go to the Park’s PEPC website for current information on this subject and leave written comments. The PEPC website is: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/. Select Wright Brothers NMem, "Proposed Air Tour Service at Wright Brothers". All comments submitted will be reviewed by the Superintendent and his staff before making a final decision.