Early this morning, drove SPIA North on Highway SR 12 to KITTY HAWK, OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA.
It was a clear sunny day with a few fluffy clouds drifting on the rather strong South West wind.
We first by-passed the Wright Brothers National Park, ending up at WAL-MART where we did some shopping...first visit in over a month.
We then back-tracked South on Highway 158 - runs parallel to SR 12 -, pulling into the National Park. Since I have a "lifetime" Senior Pass for ALL National Parks, we were waved through by the Park Ranger...
* * * 62 years old or older, any US Citizen can purchase for $10.00, a lifetime National Park Pass. Showing this pass upon entering ANY US National Park allows the vehicle AND ALL PASSENGERS to enter the park FREE * * *
The above photograph was taken from the Visitor Center entrance, looking South at the KILL DEVIL HILL from which the Wright Brother's flew and perfected their un-powered gliders. In 1902 the Wright Brothers made over 600 gliding flights from KILL DEVIL HILL, returning to their DAYTON, OHIO home with a fully controllable aircraft.
Inside the Visitor's Center, are replicas of the Wright Brother's Glider and "Flyer"..."Flyer" is the name given to the first powered flight aircraft flown on December 17, 1903 by the Wright Brothers.
A December 14, 1903 first "attempt" ended in a "stall" (the aircraft looses forward momentum and falls back toward Earth). Wilbur Wright, who won the coin toss to fly first, applied too much Elevator (the small wing in front) - in today's aircraft, the Elevator is in the back of the aircraft -, causing the front of the Flyer to rise too quickly resulting in a stall and crash.
Three days later, on December 17, 1903, the Flyer having been repaired, was again ready to try to fly...this time with Orville at the controls.. Taking off into a 27 mph (miles per hour) wind, Orville piloted the Flyer for 12 seconds, landing 120 feet from the end of the guide rail.
The guide rail was used because the ground was soft sand, not allowing wheels to roll. A wheeled dolly straddled a wooden "rail" lying in the sand, supporting the bottom of the aircraft as it rolled down the rail...at the end of the rail, Orville pulled back the Elevator handle...and flew.
Wilbur then took his second attempt to fly. He flew for 12 seconds, reaching 175 feet from the end of the rail.
Orville took the controls and flew for 15 seconds, reaching 200 feet from the rail.
Then, Wilbur flew again...this time for 59 seconds, reaching 852 feet, landing successfully.
A gust of wind caught the Flyer, tipping it over and damaged it beyond repair.
A piece of the original Flyer was carried by Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot upon the Moon. That piece of Flyer is now on exhibit in the Visitor's Center.
The Hangar for the Flyer. The building to the right is the "bunk house/kitchen".
The National Park has many information stops along the cement walkway allowing visitors to experience the Wright Brother's efforts at the exact spots they actually happened.
The above photograph shows a replica of the guide rail from which the Flyer was launched.
The large stone was the "take off" point. In the distance are four more stones...each marking the spot where the Flyer landed on the four flights of December 17, 1903.
The above photograph was taken as Orville lifted the Flyer into the air for the first time...with Wilbur running alongside, holding the wings level.
Turning around at the take-off Stone, a sidewalk leads South to the KILL DEVIL HILL, on top of which stands a monolith to Orville and Wilbur Wright.
I walked to the top of KILL DEVIL HILL, taking pictures all the way.
Along the walkway stands this photograph and explanation of a glider flight from the top of KILL DEVIL HILL.
The year was 1902.
This photo looks ever so much like the SATURN V about to be launched to the Moon.
As an aside, I participated in the NASA APOLLO Moon program...subject for another day.
Atop the KILL DEVIL HILL stands this monument to Orville and Wilbur Wright.
Looking to the left - West - from the Wright Brother's KILL DEVIL HILL Monument, one sees a modern aircraft parked along side the runway of the KILL DEVIL Village Airport.
Looking to the North from the KILL DEVIL HILL Wright Brother's Monument, one sees the field from which Flyer made aviation history on December 17, 1903....the stones marking the flight path of Flyer are clearly seen at the end of the walkway.
Beyond is the village of KITTY HAWK, OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA, with the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.
I must confess...when I visit places like the Wright Brother's National Memorial Park in KITTY HAWK, I become overcome with emotion...finding it difficult to speak...difficult to comprehend that I am actually standing in such a place of history. My walk has taken me to many such places.... more waiting just up the road.
I am honored to share these moments with you.