Wright Brothers National Memorial goes virtual for celebration of First Flight's 117th anniversary

Posted at 5:38 AM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 08:06:06-05

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. - 117 years ago, Orville and Wilbur Wright took off from the Outer Banks in their flying machine.

That first flight on December 17, 1903 lasted just 12 seconds, but it changed the course of history as the first time humans left the earth in a heavier-than-air powered machine.

On Thursday, the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills is commemorating the occasion virtually due to COVID-19.

The celebration, titled 'The Ingenuity of Aviation,' will last the entire day on the memorial's Facebook page and include, for the first time, a joint ceremony with the brothers' hometown of Dayton, Ohio. From there, online viewers can catch a number of programs on the science and history of flight, along with the legacy of the Wright brothers.

Programs will run until 7 p.m., concluding with a livestream of a fireworks display put on by the Town of Kill Devil Hills in honor of the anniversary.

"There's nothing better than an in-person visit. There's that tactile, tangible immersion in that story, you can't mimic that, you can't replicate that, but you can come close. The advances in technology allow us to connect people to these parks in ways we never thought imaginable," said Scott Babinowich, Chief of Interpretation and Education for the National Park Service in the Outer Banks.

The complete list of scheduled events is as follows:
8:30 AM: Ranger Program Premiere: Wind and Sand
9:30 AM: LIVE Dual-Stream Ceremony with Dayton, Ohio
12:00 PM: Interview with Historian Dr. Tom Crouch
1:30 PM: Ranger Program Premiere: The Wright Legacy
2:30 PM: Interview with NAA President, Greg Principato
3:00 PM: Induction of Frank Caldwell into the First Flight Shrine
4:00 PM: Making of a Monument: Interview with Alfred Poor
4:30 PM: LIVE Sunset from the Wright Brothers Monument
7:00 PM: LIVE Town of Kill Devil Hills Fireworks Display