When Orville Wright took his place at the controls of the aircraft he and his brother, Wilbur, had built on a cold, windy December day, he was confident that flight was possible. Launching into a 20-25 mph wind, the Wright Flyer lifted into the air. And in 12 seconds the history of the world changed.
Later in the day, Wilbur demonstrated that the flight was not fluke, flying the aircraft 852' in 59 seconds.
December 17, 1903, is one of the most important days in modern history. And at the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, the achievement is celebrated annually.
This year the ceremony begins at 9:00 a.m. with local groups and high schools participating. The First Flight High School Advanced Chorus will perform the National Anthem. And a kitty hawk Boy Scout Troop will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
The highlight of the ceremony always occurs at 10:35 a.m. with a military flyover, the exact time of Orville's first flight.
The original Wright Flyer is in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. And the rotunda of the Wright Brothers Monument houses an exact replica. No one is taking them out for a flight. But for the adventurous who may wish to experience flying the way the Wright brothers did, Kitty Hawk Kites has one of the few replicas of their 1902 glider that was so important in learning how to fly.
It does take a stiffer breeze to fly it than our hang gliders, however – about 15-25 mph. But for anyone looking for a truly unique flight experience, this is as different as it gets. Safe, instructors hold tethers attached to the aircraft. Flying this living piece of history is an event that will create a lifelong memory.