Daily Themes

Friday, December 12:

Igniting the Imagination

This day was designed to inspire the next generation of aviators by engaging children of all ages in the power of flight. The day’s highlights included the Raleigh Boys Choir singing the National Anthem at opening ceremonies; a greeting by North Carolina’s First Lady Mary Easley; appearances by Wright Family children; an uplink to the International Space Station at 12:00 noon provided by NASA; Grammy award-winning pop superstar Michelle Branch on the Main Stage; Candy Bomber demonstrations and the Afterburner Youth “Flight Plan for Life” program (sponsored by Bank of America).

Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14:

Remember the Past, Imagine the Future

This two-day festival celebrated aviation’s impact over the last century and featured appearances by historic aviators; exhibits chronicling the history of flight; aircraft demonstrations and entertainment. (Jump team; skywriting competition; wing-walker team, and performances by the Beach Boys and the Temptations.

Monday, December 15:

Protecting the Home of the Brave

Celebrating the impact of aviation in the military, this day was designed to honor those men and women who developed and flew military aircraft through the years. Highlights include military aircraft dating back to World War I and participation from the U.S. Military stationed around the world. (Skydiving demonstrations; Flybys including Pre-World War, Korean War, WWII and Gulf War Era Planes; Special honor for all branches of the military; and a performance by Aaron Tippin.

Tuesday, December 16:

In History’s Footsteps, Celebrating 100 Aviation Pioneers

The North Carolina Centennial special committee held a ceremony to honor 100 aviation heroes (click here to see the list), as selected by the commission. In addition, the historic contributions of these individuals will be were examined through film and exhibits. Also included was a performance of “Riding the Winds of December” by the Dare County Schools and a performance by. Lee Greenwood.

Wednesday, December 17:

Twelve Seconds that Changed the World

The celebration culminated with EAA’s re-creation of the single-most significant moment of the last century – the Wright brother’s first heavier-than-air powered flight which took off at precisely 10:35 a.m. and lasted 12 seconds, traveling 120 feet. The Wright Experience team attempted to re-enact the first flight with an authentic reproduction of the 1903 Flyer. Later that day, Harry B. Combs, noted pilot, author, and former president of Gates Learjet Corporation donated a full-scale, authentic reproduction of the 1903 Wright Flyer to the National Park Service. Dignitaries, celebrities and aviation legends were on-hand to celebrate and commemorate this occasion. John Travolta served as Master of Ceremonies for the morning event. Highlights included a 100- Plane Flyby (spaced throughout the day), and the One-Millionth EAA Young Eagle flight with retired Brigadier General Chuck Yeager.


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Presenter Highlights

The Celebration schedule was filled with special speakers and presenters who highlighted past events in aviation and aerospace, and looked to the future. Speakers and presenters included:

  • Ethel Finley (Women Airforce Service Pilots)
  • Colonel Charles E. McGee (Tuskegee Airmen)
  • Linda Morgan (set speed records in 1986 from Atlanta to Kitty Hawk and in 1996 from
  • Asheville to Kitty Hawk)
  • Wendie Olds (local author)
  • Jack Frost (National Aeronautics)
  • Richard Keyt (record holder of the world’s fastest 4-cylinder airplane)
  • Speakers from the Marshall Space Flight Center
  • Robert B. and Beverly M. Elliot (program and demonstrations of toothpick airplanes)

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Special Exhibits

First Flight Centennial Pavilion Exhibit Hall

The First Flight Centennial Pavilion Exhibit Hall, an 8,000-square-foot building, one of the three buildings that comprised the $2-million, semi-permanent, 20,000 square-foot First Flight Centennial Pavilion; houses interpretive and educational exhibits to enhance the visitor experience. The Pavilion also provides a venue to speakers and other activities to add to celebratory events. The First Flight Centennial Pavilion Exhibit Hall is open for regular visitor hours during the year, and during celebratory event hours.

Exhibit: Outer Banks at the Turn of the Century

Provided by the First Flight Foundation and Outer Banks History Center Provided by the First Flight Foundation and Outer Banks History Center Introduces the visitors into the Outer Banks of 1900. Serves as aid in understanding why the Wright brothers chose Kitty Hawk for their glider and flyer experiments, and what the region was like at the turn of the century. Aids in understanding the conditions in which the Wright brothers lived and worked, and how the geography, climate, people, etc. of the Outer Banks contributed to the achievement of the first powered flight.

Exhibit: 100 Years of Powered Flight

Provided by NASA Langley Research Center.

Provides several exhibit components including a NASA Langley Touch screen Kiosk, information on current and past NASA Langley achievements, NASA Langley’s contributions to other fields, a conceptual model of future aircraft, and a series of changing exhibits – Quieting the Skies, General Aviation Flight Demonstrator, and NASA Discovery Boxes.

Exhibit: From Kitty Hawk to the Moon in 66 years

Provided by the North Carolina First Flight Centennial Commission

Illustrative panels and aviation videos, show how from the ground-breaking twelve seconds of the first flight at Kitty Hawk, to the glorious first steps on the moon, men and women have conquered the vast challenges presented to them in flight. Depicts that throughout the history of ingenious inventors and fearless flyers, heroes have emerged, records have been broken, and pioneers have discovered. Women have flown solo across the ocean, men have flown faster than the speed of sound, and countless space shuttles have been launched into space.

Exhibit: General Aviation; the impact of the Wright Brother’s Discovery on our World.

Provided by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association

Introduces General Aviation, one of our nation’s most important and dynamic industries. Since the beginning of powered flight by the Wright brothers in 1903, airplanes have changed the way we live and work. Today, this industry consists of innovative companies who have carried on the spirit of the Wright brothers through introduction of safe, efficient, and technologically advanced aircraft and products.

Exhibit: Born of Dreams – Inspired by Freedom

Provided by the U.S. Air Force

United States Air Force Centennial Exhibit addresses the evolution of our nation’s air forces, including the Tuskegee Airmen, the Flying Tigers, and the WASPs. Today, the United States Air Force flies across every continent and all bodies of water to execute global missions and deliver humanitarian support to those in need.

Sponsors of the First Flight Centennial Pavilion represent well-known aerospace and consumer companies, including Northrop Grumman, American Airlines, Gulfstream Aerospace, Bank of America, BB&T Charitable Foundation, Bombardier, Curtiss-Wright, Dominion/North Carolina Power, Duke Energy, FedEx Corporation, Sprint, Jefferson Pilot, and the Wright Family Fund.

Special Exhibits on the Grounds, December 12-17, 2003

Exhibit: Static Aircraft Display

Vintage and homebuilt aircraft will be displayed on the park grounds including:

  • Ford Tri-Motor (EAA)
  • 1938 Beechcraft F-17D Staggerwing
  • 1929 Consolidated Fleet (Dan White)
  • 1934 Aeronca C-3 (Dan White)
  • 1941 Piper J-3 Cub (Mike Nolan)
  • 1946 Piper J-3 Cub (Dan White)
  • CASA-212 (Blackwater USA)
  • Aeronca Champ (Will Saunders)
  • Stearman (National Agricultural Association)
  • Fish and Wildlife Cessna 206
  • 1946 Aeronca Chief
  • NC Forest Service Plane
  • Cirrus Centennial SR22 (Cirrus Corporation)
  • 1947 Luscomb (Wayne Williams)
  • BT-3 Trainer
  • NC Dept of Agriculture Stearman
  • Crop Duster (Natinoal Agricultural Association)
  • BK-117 (East Care University Health Systems – 12/16-17)
  • Polen Special (Dick & Debbie Keyt)
  • 1978 Piper Turbo (Robert Hill)
  • Helio Courier (JAARS)
  • DC-3 (Piedmont Airlines)
  • AOPA Waco Biplane
  • 1953 Cessna 195 (Mike Spalding)
  • HH-60 Jayhawk; HH-65 Dolphine; MH-68 (U.S. Coast Guard)
  • AS-350B A-Star (NC Forest Service)
  • Cessna 185 (US Fish and Wildlife)
  • U.S. Army Blackhawk
  • HH-60 (NC National Guard)
  • HH-60 Blackhawk (U.S. Navy – 12/15/03)
  • T-34 (NC Forest Service)
  • OH-58 (NC National Guard)
  • 1929 Consolidated Fleet (Dan White)
  • Bell Jet Ranger (US Fish and Wildlife)
  • 1941 Piper J-3 Cub (Mike Nolan)
  • 1946 Piper J-3 Cub
  • BT-13 Trainer (Janet McCullough)
  • V-22 Osprey (U.S. Marine Corps – 12/15/03)
  • Albatross (U.S. Coast Guard)
  • EAA – 4 planes
  • OH-58 (NC Highway Patrol)

Exhibit: National Aeronautics Space and Association (NASA)

The NASA Centennial of Flight Exhibit includes:

  • Exhibit panels detailing NASA’s mission
  • Shuttle Experience theatre
  • Education Information Distribution Center
  • Space Shuttle Main Engine
  • Numerous Artifacts and Models
  • Moon Rock
  • Simulator
  • Mock-up of the International Space Station, which includes habitation module, laboratory module, docking tunnel
  • Downlink with the International Space Station on Friday, December 12 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

  • Mobile Aeronautics Education Laboratory, a 12-station aeronautics laboratory including Activity Center, Aeronautics Interactive, Aircraft Design; Air Traffic Control, GPS/Amateur Radio, Remote Sensing, Resource Center; Virtual Reality; Weather, Wind Tunnel; World Wide Web

Exhibit: United States Air Force

The “Cross into the Blue” Tour is a high-tech, interactive experience designed to educate the public on today’s U.S. Air Force.

  • State-of-the-art Movie Theater – featuring a 6’x14’ movie screen and digital surround sound built into a customized trailer. The movie features a 3 ½ minute, high-powered audio visual experience of what it’s like to be inside today’s U.S. Air Force
  • Air-to-Air Refueling Game – test your skills as a boom operator on a refueling tanker
  • Extreme Equilibrium Ride – experience the ‘spatial disorientation’ pilots may encounter
  • Special Ops Jumper Interactive – virtual reality game that simulates a parachute jump
  • Satellite Systems Display – showcases the detail and intricacies of a GPS satellite
  • F-16 Fighting Falcon – visitors can peer into the cockpit of an actual F-16 fighter jet
  • Interactive Kiosks – six computer kiosks built into the side of the movie theater trailer features trivia questions designed to educate visitors about today’s U.S. Air Force in a fun and entertaining way

Exhibit: United States Coast Guard

The display backdrop includes nearly 100 historic photos from the Coast Guard Archive, several aircraft models, and two video montages that chronicle the progression of flying machines used by the Coast Guard since LT Elmer Stone’s first flight in 1917. The centerpiece for the display is a full-size mockup of a helicopter doorway and rescue basket that will allow visitors to photograph family members and friends being “rescued.”

The remaining elements are designed to provide hands-on activities for visitors….

  • A pair of tabletop helicopter flight demonstrators. These devices use mechanical linkages to control a small tethered, electric-powered helicopter to pick up survivors and land on ships. It takes some concentration to pick up an object, but it’s quick to learn and very safe and manageable for young visitors.
  • A fixed-wing hands-on demonstrator that allows visitors to fly a Coast Guard airplane down a wire, timing the drop of a raft to survivors in the water below. This is a relatively simple device that kids of all ages can operate.
  • A crafts table where kids can make their own flight suit “patches” from a standard adhesive sticker and a variety of rubber stamps representing each of the flight crew breast insignias.

Exhibit: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

FAA Air Traffic Command Center:

  • The interior of this Command Center consists of six controller consoles.
  • One half of the interior space of the Command Center is a recreation of the interior of an air traffic control tower. The visitor will view air traffic control equipment and “window space” above it. As the visitor looks out of the air traffic cab windows, he/she will view a surround of three screens depicting one airport environment, showing views from the control tower or from the flight deck of planes taking off and landing.
  • The opposite side of the Command Center exhibit is fashioned after FAA National Radar Control/Command Center. Visitors can sit at or stand behind three stations, where “live” pre-taped traffic will be displayed. One screen will display the National airspace–tracking planes as they make their way across the country. A second screen will who incoming flight into the U.S. airspace from overseas. A third screen will display a combination of air traffic and weather patterns.
  • In addition, the remaining pavilion will consist of the “Safe Flight 21/Alaska Capstone” flight simulator, demonstrating new cockpit technology display for general aviation aircraft.

Exhibit: Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)

  • EAA’s Countdown to Kitty Hawk Touring Pavilion is an impressive interactive exhibit visiting U.S. cities and events throughout 2003 and into 2004. The exposition celebrates the invention of first flight and the ensuing possibilities that wondrous achievement launched.
  • EAA’s Countdown to Kitty Hawk pavilion is a hands-on experience, where visitors can take the controls of innovative aircraft such as the DC-3 and 747 and fly through simulated skies or try their hand at replicating the Wrights’ first flight at a virtual Kitty Hawk so real you can almost touch the sand and feel the breeze on your face.
  • The pavilion showcases EAA’s accurately reproduced 1903 Wright Flyer, while documents on display are drawn entirely from the Library of Congress collections. This story is further brought to life through a theatrical re-enactment with actors portraying 1903 Kitty Hawk resident Bill Tate — and fictional flying machine inventor, Travis Fowler, to give visitors spirited insight into the remarkable discovery of flight.

Exhibit: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)

  • Tours of the $350,000, 900 square-foot Pilot Facility at Wright Brothers National Memorial, which was generously donated by AOPA to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in 2003. The Pilot Facility includes a dedicated pilot briefing room complete with a computerized weather briefing system, route planning software, telephones, wall-mounted navigation charts and workspace for flight planning. The facility is located adjacent to the 3,000-foot First Flight Airfield and also provides rest rooms and space for an air tour concession.
  • The grand prize for AOPA’s Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes – a 1940 WACO UPF-7 Biplane
  • A small hospitality tent with displays on AOPA and general aviation.

Exhibit: Dare County Schools

  • Partnering with NASA, the Toothpick Air Force, and Kitty Hawk Kites to provide interactive educational opportunities
  • This exhibit will also showcase local students’ centennial-related art and essay display from the First Flight Contest during the 2000-2001 school year
  • A mosaic of the Wright Memorial by Manteo Middle School Students
  • Wright Flight Program
  • Kids will have the opportunity to make toy airplanes

Exhibit: First Flight Society – Outer Banks Stamp Club – United States Postal Service

  • A display of First Flight-related Philatelic materials
  • Fiberboard poster of 1900 photo of Kitty Hawk Post office
  • Quote from letter of postmaster William S. Tate to Wilbur Wright
  • First Flight Stamps, framed mementos, and commemorative cachets to celebrate the event will be sold on site.

Special Exhibits in the Visitor Center, December 12-17, 2003

Exhibit: Exhibit on Wright Brothers Artifacts from Gianni Caproni Museum at Trento, Italy

Provided in partnership with the Caproni Museum, The National Park Service and Wright State University

The Gianni Caproni Museum of Italy exhibit will display artifacts related to the Wright brothers and their early association with Italian aviation This is the first time this exhibit has visited the United States. Wilbur Wright, being the first to successfully pilot a plane in Italy, is recognized by Italy as a pioneer of Italian aviation. Wilbur also trained the first successful Italian pilot, Mario Calderara. Gianni Caproni, know as the father of Italian aircraft industry, used the Wright brothers engine design for several of his aircraft.

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