First Flight Centennial Celebration Taking Shape

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Celebration Activities

The Wright Brothers’ centennial celebration in North Carolina, although still struggling to overcome a late start in planning and a shortage of funds, is taking shape. There is still much to do. The planners are beginning to pull together an entertaining and an appropriate schedule of events that is expected to draw an estimated 50,000 visitors to the Outer Banks, including President Bush.

The focus of the celebration will center on six-day period in December at the Wright Brothers Memorial Park, Kill Devil Hills, this December (

Here are the highlights:

Dec. 12: Igniting the Imagination – This day is designed to inspire the next generation of aviators by engaging children of all ages in the power of flight. Highlights include interacting with NASA, interviews with the Wright Family, and Candy Bomber demonstrations. The latter being a recreation of the candy drops during the Berlin Airlift.

Dec. 13-14: Remember the Past, Imagine the Future – This two-day festival will celebrate aviation’s impact over the last century and will feature appearances by historic aviators, exhibits chronicling this history of flights, aircraft and demonstrations.

Dec. 15: Protecting the Home of the Brave – Celebrating the impact of aviation in the military. This day is designed to honor those men and women who developed and flew military aircraft through the years. Highlights include military aircraft dating back to World War I and participation from U.S. military stationed around the world.

Dec. 16: In History’s Footsteps, Celebrating 100 Aviation Pioneers – The N.C. Centennial Commission will hold a ceremony to honor 100 aviation heroes, as selected by the commission. In addition, the historic contributions of these individuals will be examined through film and exhibits.

Dec. 17: 12 Seconds That Changed the World – The Experimental Aircraft Association’s initiative, “Countdown to Kitty Hawk sponsored by the Ford Motor Co.,” culminates with the re-enactment of the first flight by Ken Hyde’s reproduction of the Wright Flyer at 10:35 a.m. The Wright brother’s flew the first heavier-than-air powered flight 100 years ago on this date. The Flyer took-off at 10:35 a.m. and flew 120 feet in 12 seconds. A flyover of 99 additional airplanes will top off the 100th anniversary.

Notice: Lodging on the Outer Banks is rapidly filling up. Some hotels are already full.

Some of other N.C. celebration events include:

April 16-17: Wilbur Wright Birthday Celebration at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head and Paper Airplane Contest at the Wright Memorial. (

May 14-18: Celebration of Flight and Air Show, Municipal Airport, Lumberton. (

May 16-26: Festival of Flight, Fayetteville. (

May 24-25: “The Thrill of Flying” Military Air Show, Pope Air Force Base, Fayetteville. (

June 6-8: Women in Aviation, Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport, Rocky Mount (

June 13-15: 25th Annual Wright Kite Festival, Wright Brothers Monument, Kill Devil Hills. (

July 3: Soaring Society (Gliders) Cross-Country Flight Finale Ceremony – Return to Kitty Hawk: Transcontinental Glider Race, Wright Brothers Monument, Kill Devil Hills. (

July 6-9: Re/Max Balloon Celebration, Wright Brothers Monument, Kill Devil Hills. (

August 19-25: National Aviation Week (Orville Wright’s Birthday is on the 19th), Wright Brothers Monument, Kill Devil Hills. (

Oct. 10-11: Commemorating the 1902 Wright Brothers Glider Flights, Wright Brothers Monument, Kill Devil Hills. (

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