North Carolina’s license plates boast First in Flight and today we will go back in history to 1903. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with airplanes. It amazed me how these heavy, metal machines could defy gravity and “fly” from one place to another relatively quickly. My senior thesis in college was about supersonic flight. In grade school I wrote a report on the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, and their pursuit to be the first in flight. So Kitty Hawk is our destination today.
My favorite kind of museum is an open air museum. I like these for three reasons. One, I like the open spaces of the outdoors. Two, they’re typically dog-friendly. And three, there’s plenty of room for those armed with selfie sticks. What better place to see an open air museum than Kitty Hawk North Carolina- the site of the first flight of the Wright Brothers. A piece of history that has forever changed travel as we know it today.
Kitty Hawk was the perfect site for these very determined brothers to take flight. There was plenty of sand for a soft landing, the “field” was windy and wide open for experimentation, and they were out of the public eye. The latter being their perseverance for fame as the first man to fly a powered aircraft under stable control.
Wilbur and Orville schlepped this awkward kite-like contraption thousands of times up a hill in blowing sand up to their ankles for over three years. I’ll remind you, these were two bicycle repairmen from Ohio whose combined education was seven years of high school. The first couple years were spent figuring out the four basic principles of flight: lift, gravity, thrust, drag. Finally, in December of 1903 they had it figured out.
It was a typical windy day on the “dune” when Orville took the controls and manned this aircraft for 12 historic seconds. After three more attempts that day, they had flown this airplane nearly a minute before a big gust of wind overturned the plane and damaged it beyond repair for that experimental session.
This is the very spot the Wright Flyer landed a quarter mile after lifting off. And after walking from the memorial on the hill in the background to this granite marker, Carlos was ready for a drink. . .
Another interesting tidbit about the historic photograph above was that the man who shot the photo was a local surfer (actually a lifeguard) who had never used a camera and the brothers didn’t develop the picture until they were back in Ohio several weeks later. So, I thought the dudes take a selfie with the less famous surfer dude turned famous photographer (on his rookie shot) of the two most famous aviators.
. . . My selfie stick had flown away with the wind.