On Thursday, December 17, 2020, Wright Brothers National Memorial, in partnership with First Flight Society, Outer Banks Forever, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, and National Aviation Heritage Area, will honor the accomplishments of Wilbur and Orville Wright at an online, joint celebration of the first heavier-than-air, controlled, powered flight.
The 117th anniversary of the Wright brother’s first flight celebration online event will be shown on Wright Brothers National Memorial’s Facebook page beginning at 8:30 a.m. As part of this year’s celebration, the First Flight Society will induct Frank Caldwell into the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine. Caldwell’s groundbreaking advances in propeller technology in the 1930s ushered in a new era of modern aviation.
To limit the potential spread of COVID-19, this year’s in-park celebration will not occur. The park is open daily, and visitors should continue to follow CDC, North Carolina, and Dare County guidelines.
Throughout the day, there will be interviews broadcast on Facebook with prominent aviation experts, interactive ranger programs, and videos from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, North Carolina Museum of History, Gateway National Recreation Area, and many more.
Featured virtual-only speakers and presentations on Wright Brothers National Memorial’s Facebook page include:
- 8:30 a.m. Wind and Sand interpretive ranger program. Step back in history to learn more about the first powered flight in human history and how it came to pass.
- 9:30 a.m. Welcome by Superintendent David Hallac, followed by unveiling of the Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine portrait and a joint wreath laying ceremony.
This year’s public wreath laying event will not occur. However, a few descendants of the witnesses of the first flight will place wreaths in North Carolina, the “First in Flight,” and Ohio, the “Birthplace of Aviation,” during an online Facebook broadcast. Viewers will be able to watch wreath laying ceremonies on the grounds of Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
- 12:00 p.m. Interview with Dr. Tom Crouch, Curator Emeritus of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
- 1:30 p.m. Wright Legacy interpretive ranger program. Twelve seconds was all the Wright brothers needed to show humans can fly. Discover what inspired Wilbur and Orville and how they are remembered in the world today.
- 2:30 p.m. Interview with Greg Principato, President of the National Aeronautic Association
- 4:30 p.m. Sunset view from Wright Brothers National Memorial, weather permitting.
- 7:00 p.m. Livestream of the Kill Devil Hills fireworks at Avalon Pier.
Visit Wright Brothers National Memorial’s Facebook event page for additional speakers and presentations.