January 3, 2017

Wright Brothers Memorial

About 45 minutes north of Conscience Point is Kill Devil Hills. It was in Kill Devil Hills where in 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright took the first powered flight. The two brothers were immortalized in the picture above, which shows a much different area than exists today.

On December 17, 1903, at 10:30 a.m., after three years of testing, Orville climbed aboard the 600 pound monster of a glider after he and his brother started the propeller. At 10:35, Orville loosened the restraining wire and began to accelerate down the launching rail. The wind was biting, as a nor’easter was fast approaching. Two thirds of the way down the rail, Orville jerked up into the sky and began to soar. Orville underestimated the effectiveness of the elevator and began to climb steeply. He overcorrected and the plane dived. Orville continued this pattern for 12 seconds and safely landed 120 feet from the end of the rail. For the first time, a flying machine had taken off from level ground, traveled through the air and safely landed under the control of its pilot.

It is difficult to fathom life today without the airplane. To think that the first airplane was developed just 45 minutes north of Conscience Point is astounding. One visit to the Wright Brothers Memorial and you will be forever amazed at the resilience of the Wright Brothers.