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Festival Of Flight, Centennial Of Flight Mark Weekend Tributes To Wright Brothers

Posted May 16, 2003

— We travel the world in a flash these days. The only question we ask: how much will it cost?

The big question 100 years ago: was flight even possible?

Orville and Wilbur Wright proved it was.

Starting Friday night, Fayetteville celebrates that first flight in North Carolina with an extravaganza that is the Festival of Flight.

There's so much to experience during the 11-day festival, including a one-of-a-kind musical performance.

The Cape Fear Regional Theater will present "Let 'er Fly", an original production of songs and choreography that dramatize the past century of flight. Let 'er Fly goes on Saturday night at the outdoor theater in downtown Fayetteville. Showtime is 8:30. For ticket information, call


Just prior to the start of the musical, theater-goers can watch WRAL's Centennial of Flight, a half-hour special celebrating the history of flight in North Carolina.

Also Saturday, 100 years to the minute, the 1903 Wright Flyer will attempt another takeoff from Kitty Hawk. That challenge is being led by Ken Hyde and his crew of craftsmen and engineers at the Wright Experience based in Warrenton, Va. They have been commissioned to build a replica of the same plane Wilbur and Orville flew at Kitty Hawk a century ago.

"No one has ever done this before," Hyde said. "We've put a man on the moon, but we have not been able to duplicate a Wright Brothers airplane and fly it the way that they did."

Every detail of the flyer requires special attention. Authenticity is paramount. The fabric, the framing, the hardware, the engine even the propeller is an exact reproduction.

The Wright brothers built their first plane using data and research collected in their Bicycle shop and from field testing at Kitty Hawk. The Wright Experience has the help of the U.S. Air Force, recently completing testing on its flyer at the NASA Langley wind tunnel in Virginia.

"The reality is that the airplane is going to fly differently on Dec. 17th than here in a simulator," Hyde said. "But we will have an opportunity that the Wright brothers didn't. Their wind tunnel was Kitty Hawk. Our wind tunnel is right here at NASA Langley."


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