Friday, September 21, 2012

Travel - The Wright Brothers National Memorial

Replica of Wright's planes.
      While on vacation at the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, my wife Deb and I decided to take a side trip to visit the Wright Brother National Memorial in Kill Devils Hills. This was our first visit to the Outer Banks which included a houseful of family.
      With a total of eighteen people under one roof in a giant beach side home, it was time to get out and do a little sightseeing. The national memorial was a short ten minute drive from our rental house to Kitty Hawk along Route 158. Entrance fee to the property is $4.00 per adult and for me, well worth the money.
     I am always willing to visit a new national site around the United States and looked forward to seeing the location of the world's first engine driven air flight. A century has past since Orville Wright made the first powered flight on December 17, 1903.
Famous photo of first powered flight.
     My wife is interesting to follow around in museums that we visit. Deb will read every sign, story and piece of history hanging among the photos, artifacts and replica planes displayed. She says that while in school she never retained the U. S. history and now wants to absorb everything when we travel to these sites.
     I like to read some of the dates and important facts. And being a photographer, I'm drawn to the photographs of the first plane in flight. The photos are clean, clear and without motion blur. Conditions weren't ideal using those large format cameras. I wonder if I would have been able to capture the photo of the air bound Orville Wright. You only get one shot. There wasn't a do over if you missed the picture as there is only one first air flight.  
Markers locate flights.
     Once outside we walk to the stone markers locating the spots where the Wright Brothers completed the first four flights. Then we stood atop Kill Devil Hill at the memorial where they launched down the ninety foot hill until airborne under the power of their plane.
     Looking down from the top, I thought of Orville Wright winning the coin flip to become the first pilot to take to the air. What an intimidating view knowing the consequences of a flight gone bad.  Twelve long seconds is all that it lasted. Engine powered air flight officially began that December day.
Strick's pix with wife Deb, my sister Lisa & her husband Scott
     On the final flight Wilbur Wright took control of the plane. He traveled 852 feet in 59 seconds. The Western Union Telegraph Co. message to the Wright family in Dayton, Ohio stated "Success four flights thursday morning all against twenty one mile wind started from level with engine power alone average speed through air thirty one miles longest 57 seconds inform  Press  home #####Christmas.    Orevelle Wright     525P"
     Today, we take their accomplishments for granted as we jet across the country in only hours. Their first flights on that day one hundred years ago led to other great Americans looking to the sky like Chuck Yeager, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. The Wright Brothers were true pioneering heroes.

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