The 116th commemoration of the First Flight officially begins 9:30 am December 17, 2019, at Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, NC. The memorial’s entrance fees are waived. Ceremonies are outside on the visitor center plaza; appropriate clothing for weather conditions are advised. The memorial is open regular hours, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
This year’s inductee into the Paul Garber Shrine is Col. Gail Halvorsen, USAF Ret., more famously known as The Candy Bomber to the public but to the children of West Berlin during the Soviet Blockade and the WWII Berlin Airlift, he is known as Uncle Wiggly Wings. Col. Halvorsen turned 99 years young October 2019 and, he is making his last appearance on the Outer Banks for this year’s program. The program and honor also recognizes the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of the Berlin Airlift in 1949.
The Berlin Airlift was a 15-month joint operation including the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army Transport Command. and British Air Force.
The keynote speaker is General Maryanne Miller, Commander, USAF Air Mobility Command.
Honored Special Guests: Col. Gail Halvorsen, the Halvorsen Family, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and German military representatives.
The celebration includes a limited aviation flyover of a U.S. Navy C-60 and a U. S. Air Force C-17, weather permitting.
On WBNM’s grounds will be static displays of the R5-D/C-54 Spirit of Freedom and C-47 Miss Virginia aircraft participating in the Berlin Airlift.
Dec. 17th Program Schedule
Presiding, Arthur Lamothe, President of the First Flight Society
9:00 am Arrival and Seating, seating is limited
Prelude, Patriotic music, First Flight High School Band, Kill Devil Hills, NC
9:30 am Official Opening
Presentation of colors, Camden High School ROTC
National Anthem, conducted by Walter Swan, Director of the Elizabeth City University Choir
Invocation, Father P. Nicholas Cottrill, Pastor, Holy Family Catholic Church, Elizabeth City, NC
National Park Service, Superintendent David Hallac
Wright Family Remarks, Paul Jamison
9:45 am Flyover U.S. Navy C-60 and U.S. Air Force C-17, weather permitting
Keynote Address, General Maryann Miller, Commander, U.S. Air Force Mobility Command
The First Flight, Dec. 17th, 1903, Historian Darrell Collins
Closing-Wreath laying ceremony at the First Flight Boulder, descendents of the witnesses of the First Flight, led by
Lisa Ellstrom, witness descent and First Flight Society Vice President
National Park Ranger interpretive programs provided at 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
The memorial closes 5:00 p.m.