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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    First Successful Flight of an Airplane Memorial, Kill Devil Hills

  • Type

    Sculpture

  • Subjects

    Local History

    Historic Science and Technology Figures

  • City

    Kill Devil Hills

  • County

    Dare

  • Description

    The memorial marking the first successful flight of an airplane is a six foot four inch high granite boulder with a bronze tablet. North of the marker there are four granite boulders and replica 60-foot monorail commemorating four successful flights by the Wright brothers made on the morning of December 17, 1903. Along the bottom of each of four markers is a drawing identifying the lift-off point, the length of the first flight (12 seconds, 120 feet), the length of the second flight (12 seconds, 175 feet), the length of the third flight (15 seconds, 200 feet), and the length of the fourth flight (59 seconds, 852 feet). Each boulder is numbered.

    Images: Plaque | Replica monorail | End of 1st Flight Marker | End of 2nd Flight Marker | End of 3rd Flight Marker | End of 4th Flight Marker | 1st Numbered Marker | 2nd Numbered Marker | 3rd Numbered Marker | View of the memorial with four markers | View of the Wright Brothers memorial and of the First Successful Flight | Far-off view of memorials and markers

  • Inscription

    THE FIRST SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT OF AN AIRPLANE WAS MADE FROM THIS SPOT BY ORVILLE WRIGHT DECEMBER 17, 1903 IN A MACHINE DESIGNED AND BUILT BY WILBUR AND ORVILLE WRIGHT.

  • Custodian

    National Park Service

  • Dedication Date

    December 17, 1928

  • Decade

    1920s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    36.019970 , -75.668760 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Along North Carolina's Outer Banks," in North Carolina Postcard Collection (P052), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link

      "Four Powered Flights," The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed January 31, 2017) Link

      "Marker and Monument at Base and Top of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina Marking Site of First Successful Airplane Flight by the Wright Brothers" in North Carolina Postcard Collection (P052), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link

      "Marker of First Successful Flight of a Airplane, Kill Devil Hills, N.C." in North Carolina Postcard Collection (P052), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link

      "The First Successful Flight of an Airplane," The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed February 1, 2017) Link

      "Wright Brothers Image Gallery," Wright Brothers National Memorial, (accessed June 25, 2012) Link

      Massengill, Steve. "Twenty-fifth Anniversary, December 17, 1928", in North Carolina Historical Review (October 2003), (accessed February 2, 2017) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Granite marker, bronze plaque

  • Sponsors

    Kill Devil Hills Memorial Association

  • Monument Cost

    $2500

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    Friends and family of the Wrights, 200 delegates from the International Civil Aeronautics Conference, and over 3,000 visitors dedicated this marker at the approximate site of the 1903 liftoff. The ceremony also included the laying of the cornerstone atop Kill Devil Hill for the Wright Memorial.

  • Nickname

    The First Successful Flight of an Airplane

  • Subject Notes

    Orville Wright made the first flight in an airplane on December 17, 1903.

  • Controversies

    The exact location of the first flight was debated because the dunes had shifted over time. Using accounts of the flight and surviving witnesses the location was determined. The title of first in flight has been contested by other individuals, particularly Glenn Curtiss in the United States, as well as Alberto Santos-Dumont in France.

  • Location

    The memorial marker is located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Kill Devil Hills. The park address is 1000 N. Croatan Hwy., Kill Devil Hills, NC. It is located north of the Wright Brothers National Memorial and the First Flight Centennial Memorial.

  • Landscape

    The memorial stands on a wide open field.

  • Post Dedication Use

    On December 17, 2003, the centennial of the first flight, a ceremony was hosted by John Travolta and attended by President George W. Bush, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin.

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