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Contact: Outer Banks Group, (252) 473-2111
103rd 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 103rd anniversary of the first flight will be celebrated at Wright Brothers National Memorial on Sunday, December 17, 2006. This event is produced by the local Outer Banks communities, the First Flight Society and the National Park Service.
The observance will launch at 8:30 a.m. with a small wreath laying ceremony at the exact spot where the famous flights occurred. National Park Service Ranger Darrell Collins and descendents of the witnesses that assisted with the flights will pay homage to the Wright brothers and the witnesses to the first flight. This pre-program segment starts at the Wright Brothers Visitor Center.
The formal program begins at 9:00 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 at 8:45 a.m. This year’s distinguished guest speakers include, retired U.S. Air Force General Ralph E. Eberhart, who was Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Commander, U.S. Northern Command; as well as brief remarks from representatives of the National Park Service, First Flight Society, Dare County and local elected officials. Guest speaker, Dr. Tom D. Crouch, Senior Curator Division of Aeronautics Smithsonian Institution, will pay tribute to Anthony "Tony" Jannus, the 2006 Paul A Garber Shrine inductee. Mr. Jannus established the first world-wide commercial airline in 1914 and became the world’s first airline pilot.
The annual aircraft flyby will commence at 10:35 a.m., which is the documented exact moment of the Wrights' first flight. The initial set of aircraft in the flyby are transport aircraft, led by the "Flagship Detroit.", a Douglas DC-3 which symbolizes the first commercially viable passenger airliner. The Douglas DC-3 was first flown on December 17, 1935 and is still in operation around the world. Also taking to the skies is The "Spirit of Berlin," a Douglas C-54 (The Candy Bomber) which represents the many transport aircraft that participated in the Berlin Airlift. The Douglas C-54 is the military version of the Douglas DC-4 which was the next passenger airline aircraft in production after the DC-3.
A military tribute to the Wright brothers will follow the transport aircraft with the United States Coast Guard from 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 Marine Corps from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point will fly the C-9 Nightingale aeromedical evacuation aircraft, and the CH-46 "Pedro" Sea Knight Air sea rescue helicopter. The United States Marine Corps from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will fly the FA-18 Hornet fighter/attack aircraft in a two-ship formation. The F-15E Strike Eagle from the United States Air Force Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will fly a four-ship formation to conclude the flyby. The F-15 Eagle is an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat.
Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center will open at 8:00 a.m. on December 17. Normal park fees will be waived for the event until 1:00 p.m. The park’s museum exhibits, park ranger talks, and special programs throughout the day will provide a lively atmosphere for enjoyable learning about one of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century. Call (252) 441-7430 for more information.