NC -- Kitty Hawk -- Wright Brothers Natl Memorial:
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- Wikipedia Description: Wright Brothers National Memorial
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, commemorates the first successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine. From 1900 to 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright came here from Dayton, Ohio based on information from the U.S. Weather Bureau about the area's steady winds. They also valued the privacy provided by this location, which in the early twentieth century was remote from major population centers.
Exhibits and features:
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.
The Visitor Center is home to a museum featuring models and actual tools and machines used by the Wright brothers during their flight experiments. In one wing of the Visitor Center is a life-size replica of the Wright brothers' 1902 glider. 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, that was installed to make the monument more "functional" .
Building the Memorial:
The tower was designed by Rodgers and Poor, a New York architectural firm; the design was officially selected on February 14, 1930. Prior to the memorial's construction, the War Department selected Captain William H. Kindervater of the Quartermaster Corps to prepare the site for construction and to manage the area landscaping. To secure the sandy foundation, Captain Kindervater selected bermuda grass to be planted on Kill Devil Hill and the surrounding area. He also ordered a special fertilizer to be spread throughout the area to promote grass and shrubbery growth and decided to build a fence to prevent animal grazing. With a strong foundation in place, the Office of the Quartermaster selected Marine Captain John A. Gilman to preside over the construction project. Construction began in October of 1931 and with a budget of $213,000, the memorial was completed in November of 1932. In the end, 1,200 tons of granite, more than 2,000 tons of gravel, more than 800 tons of sand and almost 400 tons of cement were used to build the structure, along with numerous other materials.
November 14, 1932 was selected as the dedication day; over 20,000 people were expected to attend. Yet, only about 1,000 actually came to the event, which was held on a stormy and windy day. Orville Wright was the main guest of honor at the ceremony and aviator Ruth Nichols was given the privilege of removing the American flag that covered the word "GENIUS" and the plaque on the monument. President Herbert Hoover was unable to attend the ceremony ; however, a letter from the President was read prior to the dedication.
The hill offers great views of the surrounding area.
Centennial of Flight:
There are ranger-conducted programs. Recently, a new expanded museum opened with artifacts, videos, and other exhibits. On December 17, 2003, the Centennial of Flight was celebrated at the Park. The ceremony was hosted by flight enthusiast John Travolta, and included appearances by President George W. Bush, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Chuck Yeager.
Authorized as Kill Devil Hill Monument on March 2, 1927, it was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. Congress renamed it and designated it a national memorial on December 4, 1953. As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the national memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The memorial's visitor center, designed by Ehrman Mitchell and Romaldo Giurgola, was designated a National Historic Landmark on January 3, 2001. The memorial is co-managed with two other Outer Banks parks, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
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