The Wright Brothers National Memorial is dedicated to honoring the first successful powered flights as conducted by the Wright Brothers. Located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, the 60-foot granite monument is surrounded by well-tended grounds with information markers that highlight the important points of the memorial such as the successful places of launching and landing, the visitor center, and a group of small museums and exhibits that celebrate the history of flight. Visitors can relive the Wright Brother’s first flight across the rolling sand dunes of the Kill Devil Hills to the latest breakthroughs from NASA.
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Originally from Ohio, the Wright Brothers first put their dream of flying to the test in 1900 when they test launched a glider just outside the quaint town of Kitty Hawk, a small coastal town with perfect conditions for flying. They tested various planes and new designs over the following years, until the first successful flight on December 17th in 1903 when the aircraft they had built flew 120 feet in 12 seconds. Just five witnesses saw the first flight, one of which caught the epic moment on camera, and the town of Kitty Hawk and surrounding Kill Devil Hills were instantly put on the map. In the 1920s it was decided to build a monument to honor the Wright Brother's status as the first pioneers of aviation and their outstanding achievement.
In 1953 the National Park Service reconstructed the two Wright Brothers' gliders in honor of the 50th anniversary, as well as an expansive visitors' center and museum and the Memorial site was turned into a National Park.
Things to do at the Wright Brothers National Memorial
The Wright Brothers National Memorial National Park features the granite monument honoring the Wright Brothers, a reproduction of the launch rail, and the small sites that mark the exact spots of the first and second landings. The main Visitor Center and Museum displays a full-scale reproduction of the 1902 glider and the 1903 flying machine, as built by the brothers, as well as an engine block from the original 1903 flyer. The Museum also features a replica of the wind tunnel that the Wright brothers used during their early experiments, along with interpretive displays and exhibits placed throughout the museum. Seasonal free programs are available for visitors and include kite building demonstrations, flight room talks that recount the story of the first flight and flying tests with paper airplanes.
The Living Quarters and Hangar are perfectly restored replicas of the structures that the Wright Brothers called home during their experimental years and are furnished with items and objects that the brothers bought with them. The Hangar reflects the original storage area where they kept their famous 1903 Wright Flyer.
The Visitor Center is home to a museum that features a replica of the wind tunnel used during their experiments, a portion of the engine and the tools and machines used in the first flight. Other notable exhibits include a life-size replica of the Wright brothers' 1903 Flyer, and a full-scale model of the Brothers' 1902 glider, along with portraits and photographs of other flight pioneers throughout history.
The newest attraction at the Wright Brothers National Memorial is the Centennial of Flight Museum, a futuristic looking structure which honors the 100-year celebration of flight. Located next to the first visitors' center and museum, the Centennial of Flight Museum features several exhibits ranging from the turn-of-the-century Outer Banks environment in which the Wright Brothers had to work to a series of exhibits donated by NASA. The Wright Brothers National Memorial was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975 and is surrounded by 428 acres of beautiful grounds and views over the Outer Banks.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial offers a variety of educational programs and workshops that bring the National Park to the classroom.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial is located at 1401 National Park Drive in Manteo and is open to the public Monday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
1401 National Park Drive, Manteo, NC 27954, Phone: 252-473-2111
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