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Contact: Wright Brothers National Memorial, (252) 441-7430
105th Anniversary Event Scheduled at Wright Brothers National Memorial
On Wednesday, December 17, 2008 the First Flight Society and the National Park Service will continue the tradition of honoring the accomplishments of Wilbur and Orville Wright at the 105th anniversary celebration of the first heavier-than-air powered flight. The event will take place at Wright Brothers National Memorial; park entrance fees will be waived for the day.
The observance will launch at 8:30 a.m. with a short wreath-laying ceremony at the exact spot where the famous first flight occurred. In this event, the Wright brothers and the witnesses of the first flight will be honored by the National Park Service and the descendents of the witnesses. This program segment will start at the Wright Brothers Visitor Center.
The formal program begins at 9 a.m. in the First Flight Pavilion, preceded with a patriotic musical prelude by the Northeastern High School Band from Elizabeth City, NC. Nags Head and First Flight Elementary School students participating in the Wright Flight academic achievement program will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Dr. Tom Crouch, Senior Curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will introduce this year’s distinguished guest speaker - James May, President and COE of the Air Transport Association. Mr. May will provide a tribute to Herb Kelleher, the 2008 Paul E. Garber Shrine Inductee. Mr. Kelleher is the founder and former chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines. For the past 11 years Fortune Magazine has listed Southwest Airlines as number five among America’s top ten most admired corporations.
The annual aircraft fly-by will commence at 10:35 a.m. - the documented exact moment of the Wrights’ first flight. The military fly-by tribute is scheduled to include: F-18 Hornets from the U.S. Navy Oceana Air Station; F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base; V-22 Ospreys from the U.S. Marine Corp New River Air Station; Black Hawk helicopters from Fort Bragg U.S. Army Base; and C-130 Hercules and JJ-60 Jay Hawk helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard Elizabeth City Air Station. The C-54 Candy Bomber will conclude the fly-by.
The park’s museum exhibits and activities throughout the day will provide an atmosphere of enjoyable learning about one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. The visitor center will open at 8 a.m. Scheduled programs include: Flight Room Talk at 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; First Flight Tour at 1 p.m.; Wright Flight, a kite-building program for children, at 11 a.m. Children are also invited to participate in the park’s Junior Ranger program. The Wright Monument will be open for climbing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.