Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wall Painting at Wright Brothers Memorial

History was made here in December 1903 when Orville Wright stayed aloft for 12 seconds of powered flight and landed safely. A sandy hill here, known as Kill Devil Hill, provided perfect and steady headwind of 10-20 miles per hour. The area was isolated and free from prying eyes trying to learn secrets of the bicycle makers.

People soon learned the historical significance of the spot where first flight occurred. The sand hill would surely not withstand the test of time so dune grasses, shrubs and trees were planted to stabilize the mound. The Atlantic Ocean lies just beyond the Outer Banks.

There is a nice visitor center and museum containing a replica of a Wright Flyer. A park ranger described a few problems solved by the Wright Brothers and their mechanic.

A wind tunnel is on display used by the inventors to study effects of wind dynamics. They learned that lift charts in use at the time were in error so they created their own charts which are still in use today.

The Wrights soon learned that propellers shaped like ship's propellers were not effective in air. Wood propellers are on display in the museum. They could not find an engine that had a required power-to-weight ratio so they built their own engine. An example of the Wright's home-made engine is on display.

The Wright Flyer uses wing warping to control aircraft roll. The park ranger showed us how easy it was for the pilot to effectively change the shape of the wings by a lever. Wing warping isn't used in today's aircraft as their wings are somewhat inflexible.

The park ranger told us that we were visiting on a day that mimiced the weather conditions of the day the Wright Brothers flew. It was a cold, cold north wind and temperatures barely above freezing. Orville Wright's hands must have been almost numb trying to work the controls.

Bronze Replica of First Flight

The above image shows a bronze reproduction of the famous photograph taken during liftoff of a Wright Flyer. A monument is seen on the distant hilltop.

A 60-foot monument sits atop kill Devil Hill, site of Wright Brothers famous flight.

New Year's Day First Light

We are waiting for a sunrise on Florida's eastern Atlantic Ocean coast.