On Sunday, December 17, 2017, 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 114th anniversary celebration of the first heavier-than-air, controlled, powered flight. The event takes place at the tent area south of the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center parking area and park entrance fees will be waived for the day.
Scheduled events for the day include:
8:30 a.m. – The observance begins with a patriotic musical prelude by the Northeastern High School Band from Elizabeth City, NC.
8:45 a.m. – The formal program will commemorate the Wrights’ achievement. Arthur Lamothe, President of the First Flight Society, will open the program; the Civil Air Patrol, NC and VA Wings will present the colors; Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technology will lead the pledge of allegiance; Graham Outten will lead the National Anthem; and NPS Superintendent David Hallac will welcome guests.
Joseph Vazquez, Major General of the Civil Air Patrol and Director of the First Flight Society will introduce the program’s keynote speaker – Brigadier General James R. Cluff, US Air Force, Vice Commander 25th Air Force Joint Base San Antonio-Lakeland Texas.
Dr. Tom Crouch, Smithsonian Institution Senior Curator of Aeronautics, will induct Elrey Borge Jeppesen into the First Flight Society’s Paul E. Garber’s First Flight Shrine. Elrey Borge Jeppesen is an aviation pioneer whose “little black book” of notes and hand-drawn diagrams grew into the Jeppesen Airway Manual, which is known and trusted by pilots all over the world.
Darrell Collins, former NPS Historian, will speak on Wright brothers’ achievement on December 17, 1903, and preside over the wreath-laying ceremony, which is conducted by descendants of the witnesses of the first flight to honor the Wright brothers.
10:35 a.m. – An aviation flyover by the United States Air Force will pay tribute to the Wright brothers at the documented exact moment of the Wrights’ first flight (weather dependent).
The temporary visitor center opens at 9:00 a.m. Park rangers will provide 15-25 minute interpretive talks on the park grounds at 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. Youth are invited to participate in the park’s free Junior Ranger program available throughout the day at the temporary visitor center.