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116th Annual Celebration Of The Wright Brothers First Flight

12/17/2019 - 8:30am
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Outdoor Activities

On Monday, December 17, the First Flight Society and the National Park Service (NPS) will continue the tradition of honoring the accomplishments of Wilbur and Orville Wright at the 116th anniversary celebration of the first heavier-than-air, controlled, powered flight. The event takes place outside of the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center and park entrance fees will be waived for the day.

The celebration will begin at 8:30 am and include the following speakers and presentations:

  • Patriotic music provided by the Northeastern High School Band from Elizabeth City, NC
  • Presentation of colors by the Civil Air Patrol, NC and VA Wings
  • Pledge of allegiance led by Lt. Col Max Benbow
  • National Anthem led by Echo of Heritage
  • Invocation by Pastor Marc O’Neal, Camden United Methodist Church
  • National Park Service welcome by Superintendent David Hallac
  • Remarks from Wright brothers descendant Paul Wright Jameson          
  • Recognition of special guests by Arthur Lamothe, President of the First Flight Society
  • Tribute to the First Flight Shrine honoree Katherine Johnson by Dr. Tom Crouch, Senior Curator, Aeronautics, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Katherine Johnson was a National Aeronautics and Space Administration mathematician who exhibited exceptional technical leadership, calculating and verifying trajectories that took the first Americans to space and to the moon.
  • Introduction of the program’s keynote speaker by Charles Davidson, First Flight Society Board of Directors
  • Keynote speech by David E. Bowles, Director of the NASA Langley Research Center.
  • Park Ranger Amiee Ginnever will speak on Wright brothers’ achievement on December 17, 1903.
  • Wreath-laying ceremony, which is conducted by descendants of the witnesses of the first flight to honor the Wright brothers led by Darrell Collins, Historian and First Flight Society Lifetime Member.

The celebration will conclude at 10:35 am with a small aviation flyover with two-three NASA aircraft paying tribute to the Wright brothers at the documented exact moment of the Wrights’ first flight (weather dependent).

Park rangers will provide interpretive walks at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and 4:00 pm. Youth are invited to participate in the park’s free Junior Ranger program and earn a special commemorative Junior Ranger pin available throughout the day at the visitor center. The park will remain open until 5:00 pm.