Ohio, North Carolina to celebrate anniversary of Wright brothers’ first flight today

Ceremonies honoring the Wright brothers’ first flight will be held today for the first time ever as a joint ceremony between Ohio and North Carolina.

Dayton’s Orville and Wilbur Wright sent a telegram from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina Dec. 17, 1903, writing of their success that day. In celebration of First Flight, various events and programming Thursday will be broadcast via livestream throughout the day from Ohio’s National Aviation Heritage Area, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, Wright Patterson Air Force Base and North Carolina’s First Flight Society, First Flight Foundation, Wright Brothers National Memorial and Outer Banks Forever.

That will include a joint wreath-laying ceremony and flyover starting at 9:30 a.m. at various sites, including Dayton’s Wright Brothers Memorial. That site was dedicated on Aug. 19, 1940 with Orville Wright in attendance. A flyover of the B-1B Lancer is scheduled to close out the celebration at 10:35 a.m.

To view that ceremony, visit the First Flight Anniversary-Virtual Facebook page.

The majority of the day’s online programming will take place at the Wright Brothers Memorial, which held the inaugural celebration of the Wrights’ first flight on Dec. 17, 1978, a ceremony that has been held annually ever since, according to Elizabeth Connor, spokeswoman for National Aviation Heritage Area.

Ceremonies have historically been held in North Carolina and Ohio, however, they have never before been held as a joint ceremony, Connor told this news outlet Tuesday.

“The success of the first flight would not have been possible without both Ohio and North Carolina, so it’s an honor to bring that spirit of collaboration to our audiences,” she said.

Due to COVID restrictions, the ceremony is closed to the public. However, Huffman Prairie Flying Field is open for hikes and Carillon Historical Park is open for those who wish to view the Wright Brothers National Museum, which has more Wright artifacts on display than any other place in the world.

That includes the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the only airplane designated a National Historical Landmark, the first practical flying machine and what the Wright brothers considered their most important aircraft, Connor said.

Overcoming some of the technological challenges has been an ongoing part of event preparation this year, she said.

“We have run multiple tests between the two states and are confident we are going to showcase the best of virtual technology with our split-screen broadcast,” Connor said. “One of the greatest aspects of this year’s event will be the joint wreath-laying.”

In Dayton, the Wright family descendants will lay a wreath, and in North Carolina, descendants of the first witnesses of flight also will lay a wreath.

“Having those two pieces brought together on screen live is truly thrilling,” Connor said.

Connor said living in Dayton, the Birthplace of Aviation, is “a humbling reminder of the drive, determination and bravery of the people who make this region a hub of ingenuity.”

Celebrating the Wright brothers’ achievement each year is a reminder of the importance of aviation, she said.

“This year, the achievement of the Wright brothers is bringing the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines and essential supplies to health care workers, it’s bringing food for communities and it’s providing aid in areas of natural disaster,” Connor said. “Celebrating the Wright brothers’ achievement is to celebrate the innovation of a nation.”

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