North Carolina is home to Wright Brothers first flight


Life sized plane and sculpture field

The National Park Service operates the National Memorial to the Wright Brothers located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, specifically the Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills area.

All have heard of the first manned flight in a powered airplane. Any trip to the area of the Outer Banks should include a visit to this dramatic Memorial. We arrived late in the day, and thus did not have time to visit the Visitors Center. We did, however, enjoy the massive monument and the artistic reproduction of the original Wright flier and associated sculpture field.

The massive monument is on top of the large sand dune hill where the flights occurred. In the 1920’s the dune was seeded with grass to stabilize the hill in preparation for the construction of the monument.

Originally from Ohio, the Wright brothers found that the sand dunes of the outer banks would be a perfect place for them to design the gliders and finally the engine powered airplane. Sand dunes provided a relatively safe place to test fly: sand is soft, protects the pilots and lessens potential damage to the aircraft.

Monument on the hill where the first flight occurred

Monument on the hill where the first flight occurred

Statue of Wilbur running alongside the plane piloted by Orville

Statue of Wilbur running alongside the plane piloted by Orville. Note the portrayal of the photographer left background

Personnel from the local US Lifesaving Service offered help and on December 17, 1903 several were at the site of the flight. This moment was captured in the iconic photograph of the moment the plane took flight. At the memorial there is a marvelous sculpture field including a life sized reproduction of the plane as well as bronze sculptures of the men who were there at the time. This is a most impressive view that immediately takes you back to that famous December day in 1903.

Plan on visiting this marvelous piece of U.S. history. Here is the NPS website with details and some great information. Note: our National Parks Service Senior Pass saved us the entrance fees to the site. (Seniors 62 and older can get this pass here: NPS lifetime Senior Pass website)

The monument

The monument

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