The sculpture was a gift to the centennial and Wright legacy by the state of North Carolina.
Sculptor, Stephen H. Smith
Wright Brothers First Flight Centennial Memorial
Commissioned by the State of North Carolina to celebrate the centennial Anniversary of flight December 17, 1903-2003. The Governor of North Carolina, Michael F. Easley, gifted the sculpture on behalf of the state to the United States Government, on hand to accept it was Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton. The sculpture is comprised of 7 life-size bronze figures – that of Orville Wright who flew that day, Wilbur Wright running alongside the planes as it outran him and John T. Daniels, a local who photographed the historic moment. The plane, a full-scale replica of the 1903 Flyer, with a 40’ 4” wingspan, was fabricated in stainless steel and weighs 10,000 lbs.
The 4 other witnesses on hand that day, Cephus Brinkley, Will Dough, Adam Etheridge and Johnny Moore, were added to the Memorial and dedicated on the 102 Anniversary; December 17, 2005.
This land was set aside to honor the Wright Brothers and to commemorate one of man kind’s greatest achievements, that of flight.
source and photographs-www.stephenhsmith.com
“We actually (modeled it on) the moment before,” the Wilmington-born artist said. “In the photo, the plane is about two feet in the air. We wanted it at the very beginning of flight.”
The poses were practical as well as aesthetic. The sculpture weighs well over 10,000 pounds, and it was necessary to have the plane touching the ground to keep it stable, especially in an area with weather as turbulent as the Outer Banks can experience.
All that weight is supported by concrete and steel pillars extending 30 feet deep into the ground. The whole assemblage was designed, with the help of state Department of Transportation engineers, to withstand 140 mph wind and weight of 150 pounds per square foot.
“And we were happy we did that after coming over here yesterday and seeing a number of children hanging on the front of that elevator,” Smith said, gesturing to the small wing at the front of the flyer.
-source USA Today 12/13/03