Wright Brothers Sculpture

by Dr. Richard Stimson

in Kitty Hawk 2003 Celebration Events

There is a wonderful new sculpture at the Wright Brothers National Memorial Park in Kill Devil Hills. It is a life-size sculpture that depicts the Wright Flyer just as it is lifting into the air on its first successful attempt. Orville is lying on the lower wing controlling the plane. Wilbur is running with his arm outstretched as the plane moves beyond his reach. John Daniels is some 84 feet back just squeezing the bulb that activates the shutter of the camera on a tripod.

The men are made of bronze and the Flyer is made of stainless steel. The entire sculpture is made in realistic detail. The camera looks as if it could actually take a picture and the engine on the flyer looks like it could actually run.

The sculptor is Stephen Smith (left in picture) from Marshville, N.C. The 10,000-pound Flyer is located just below the Wright Monument on the south side and was installed just in time for the centennial celebration

One of the great things about the sculpture is that it is interactive. Kids can climb on the flyer and examine it in detail. You can look the figures in the eye as if they were alive.

The $250,000 sculpture was paid for by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, using public arts programming funding. The four remaining witnesses to the first flight will be added one at a time each year. Adam Etheridge, one of the members of the life saving crew, is scheduled to be the next addition.

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