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Wright descendants mark 110th anniversary of first flight

Posted December 17, 2013

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— On a spectacular winter day on the Outer Banks, spectators looked up and looked back Tuesday at a day 110 years ago that changed history.

Orville and Wilbur Wright opened the skies to controlled powered flight on Dec. 17, 1903, when their plane took off on a 12-second flight on the dunes of North Carolina's coast.

To mark the milestone, a procession of aircraft flew overhead Tuesday, each influenced by the Wright Flyer.

"It is hallowed ground to anybody in aviation," said Matt Artz, who brought his family to the Wright Brothers National Memorial for the anniversary celebration.

"We think it's an important part of history, and we definitely want to pass that on to our kids," Sue Artz said.

Six-year-old Ozzie Artz even came close to being named Orville, according to his parents.

Orville and Wilbur Wright never married or had children, but their brothers, Reuchlin and Lorin, did, and Wright descendants and relatives of those who witnessed the famous flight laid wreaths at the site Tuesday.

Wright Brothers National Memorial First flight anniversary marked on Outer Banks

"It's a source of huge pride for me," Amanda Wright Lane said, noting that she thinks about her family every time she boards a jet. "I think about how far it's come and how far we have to go. I mean, it's unlimited where our imaginations can take us."

Both Ohio, which was home to the Wright brothers, and North Carolina lay claim to being "First in Flight."

Paul Wright Jameson said he'd give the nod to Ohio, adding, "Without North Carolina, it wouldn't have happened."

"The brothers built the airplane in Dayton, but this is the place where it flew. So, I have to say there couldn't have been one without the other," Wright Lane said.

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  • Bill Brasky Dec 18, 2013

    The real source of contention is Glen Curtis. The thing with the Wright Brothers is that they kept their invention underwraps after they flew in 1903 because they didn't want competitors stealing their ideas and selling a flying machine to countries around the world, so they very secretive about what they did from 1903-1908. During those years they did everything they could to sell their machine to different countries, but these countries wanted proof they had flown and the Wright Brothers were affraid they would see their simple machine and copy them.

    There were few witnesses between 1903-1908, and the pictures that we see of the plane flying weren't released until after 1908, when Glen Curtis flew on July 4th 1908, and the first true public demonstration for the Wright Brothers occurred in August 1908. This is were most of the debate is. I believe they are crazy conspiracy folks who believe the Wright Brothers faked all their pictures and witnesses between 1903-1908.

  • Bill Brasky Dec 18, 2013

    (2) The "aerodrome" (Langley's term for an airplane) which crashed in the Anacostia was dredged up and, in modified form, did later fly. Langley's supporters ignored the fact that the craft had been retrofitted when it finally achieved flight, which I'm sure was after 1903. Diehards still debate whether it was capable of flight in its original form. As I recall it was mounted to a catapult anyway and incapable of taking off under its own power.

    Looks like it flew in 1914 after it was modified.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Pierpont_Langley

    I wouldn't count the plane in 1896 because it wasn't manned, plus it sounds like it had a rubber band for an engine...lol

  • sinenomine Dec 18, 2013

    Bill Brasky - Re your comment with regard to Langley: I can't find the book I was looking for but I think that the Smithsonian claim was founded on one of two things.

    (1) At some point, I think in the 1880s, Langley did construct a contraption which flew, sort of, out over the Potomac for a couple of minutes. It was not manned and was not guided and basically flew in a slow circle until more or less crashing on the far bank. Although it was better than anyone else had done to that point it wasn't exactly in the same category as the Wrights.

    (2) The "aerodrome" (Langley's term for an airplane) which crashed in the Anacostia was dredged up and, in modified form, did later fly. Langley's supporters ignored the fact that the craft had been retrofitted when it finally achieved flight, which I'm sure was after 1903. Diehards still debate whether it was capable of flight in its original form. As I recall it was mounted to a catapult anyway and incapable of taking off under its own power.

  • Bill Brasky Dec 18, 2013

    "until 1942 the museum claimed that its longtime secretary, Samuel Pierpont Langley, had invented the airplane"

    Which is funny because the Langley plane flew about 5 feet before crashing into the Potomac river.

  • Bill Brasky Dec 18, 2013

    "It would be sort of like if New Mexico claimed to be "first in the nuclear age" just because that's where the first atom bomb was tested."

    They do claim to be the first site of a nuclear blast. There is a plaque at the site and its visited by many tourists every year.

    I do understand what your saying in regards to the Wright Brothers. The Wright Brothers picked the outer banks due to the high winds and low altitude, which made it perfect for testing and building a flying machine. After the first plane flight the flyer was wrecked from high winds, the brothers went back to Ohio and built the Wright Flyer II, which was an improved version of th Flyer I, they tested it and flew it in a field outside of Dayton, and made longer and longer flights, eventually building the Flyer III which was a huge improvement over the other planes. In 1908 they did return to Kitty Hawk to perfect their skills in order to sell the plane to the military. So it was a joint effort between Ohio and NC.

  • Nope Dec 18, 2013

    Maybe NC's slogan should more accurately be "we have a lot of wind at the beach in the winter"

  • sinenomine Dec 18, 2013

    I deplore the highway battle between "First in Flight" on NC tags and "Birthplace of Aviation" on tags from "that other state".

    I say go back to putting "Drive Safely" on NC tags like they did years ago. Alternatively we could adopt the slogan "At Least We're Not Ohio".

    PS - Somebody reading this comment, assuming it gets posted, will no doubt get in a tizzy and post an insulting comment taking me to task for insulting Ohio. To that person or persons - I'm KIDDING. Ohio is a beautiful state and I have enjoyed my visits there.

  • sinenomine Dec 18, 2013

    History changes all the time. It wasn't until 1948 that the Wright Brothers plane came to the Smithsonian; until 1942 the museum claimed that its longtime secretary, Samuel Pierpont Langley, had invented the airplane and the Wright craft was on display in England. Its ownership still reverts to Wright heirs if the Smithsonian ever changes its position - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_Flyer

    As for those who have already injected politics into this page (after 5 comments!), unless you're a pure-blooded Native American your ancestors came to the US from somewhere else, like mine did, which makes you an immigrant or a descendant of one. It's been said that if you move to England and live for years you still won't be English, and if you move to France and live you still won't be French, but if you come to America and adopt our ways and bear allegiance to this country you ARE an American. So be it in my book.

  • Kaitlyn Dec 18, 2013

    I was born in NC and have lived here all my life but I think it's a stretch for our state to claim "first in flight." The Wright plane was conceived, designed and built in Ohio by Ohioans and the NC OBX was just the place they decided to test it out. It would be sort of like if New Mexico claimed to be "first in the nuclear age" just because that's where the first atom bomb was tested.

  • Bill Brasky Dec 18, 2013

    "But with most of our population being born in other countries and disliking the foundation upon which America was built, what more can we expect?"

    Not sure how you can blame foreigners or immigrants since we all fit into that mold once upon a time, and to be a legalized citizen, you have to know the constitution inside and out, more than likely better than any natural born citizen.

    I would say the issue falls more into people's core values and allowing greed to trump commonsense and facts. There is a lot of money that could be generated for Conneticut if they can convince the world that they were first in flight.

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