The Wright Brothers Memorial
Wright Brothers National Memorial commemorates two ingenious brothers from Dayton, OH who, in 1900, chose the sparsely populated area known as the Outer Banks to conduct a series of experiments that three years later resulted in the world’s first heavier than air, powered controlled flight. With courage and perseverance, these self-taught engineers relied on teamwork and application of the scientific process and in 1903 they achieved the first successful airplane flight. The Wright Brothers Memorial is where the brothers’ story is told through exhibits. The park today includes the monument on Big Kill Devil Hill, the granite marker at the liftoff spot, four smaller granite markers designating the landing spot of each of the four flights, and reconstructed 1903 camp buildings. A visitor center and Centennial pavilion house reproductions of the 1902 glider and 1903 Flyer, as well as other exhibits. The Field and Hangar The Wrights made four flights from level ground near the base of the hill on December 17, 1903, following three years of gliding experiments from atop this and other nearby sand dunes. It is possible to walk along the actual routes of the four flights, with small monuments marking their starts and finishes. Two wooden sheds, based on historic photographs, recreate the world's first airplane hangar and the brothers' living quarters. Visitor Center The Visitor Center is home to a museum featuring models and actual tools and machines used by the Wright brothers during their flight experiments including a reproduction of the wind tunnel used to test wing shapes and a portion of the engine used in the first flight. In one wing of the Visitor Center is a life-size replica of the Wright brothers' 1903 Flyer, the first powered aircraft in history to achieve controlled flight. A full-scale model of the Brothers' 1902 glider is also present, having been constructed under the direction of Orville Wright himself. Adorning the walls of the glider room are portraits and photographs of other flight pioneers throughout history. Kill Devil Hill and the Memorial Tower A 60-foot (18 m) granite monument, dedicated in 1932, is perched atop 90-foot-tall (27 m) Kill Devil Hill, commemorating the achievement of the Wright brothers. They conducted many of their glider tests on the massive shifting dune that was later stabilized to form Kill Devil Hill. Inscribed in capital letters along the base of the memorial tower is the phrase "In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by genius achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith." Atop the tower is a marine beacon, similar to one found in a lighthouse. Wright Brothers National Memorial is open seven days a week, year round. The visitor center and Centennial Pavilion are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. (closed Christmas Day, December 25). Check the program schedule or the latest issue of the park newspaper In the Park to plan your visit.