On the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the USA is where it all began, not much more than 100 years ago! There among the sand dunes is the handsome monument and museum which recognizes the first powered flight of an aircraft by Wilbur and Orville Wright. It is still an astonishing story about two brothers with a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, whose imagination and ingenuity led them to study the aerodynamics of flight and the design and construction of a propellor driven aircraft. Their search for a test location took them to the Outer Banks (five days journey by train in those days) where the winds from the Atlantic combined with the soft landing on the sand dunes. There they built their workshop and the flimsy machine which Orville flew into the air on December 17, 1903. Markers on the ground show how that first flight travelled some 40 yards; and then after two more attempts, the fourth flight of the day reached a point nearly 300 yards distant.
In just two generations, this has led to the development of passenger flight as an everyday convenience, to Concorde and to the Space Shuttle. And we discovered that the pioneering efforts of the Wright Brothers was not followed up in their own country for a decade; they brought their machine to Europe where its potential was recognized by nations preparing for war – and by 1914, there were hundreds of aircraft flying in Britain, France and Germany, but only a dozen in the USA providing joy-rides!
The Museum illustrates the evolution of manned flight through all its stages and a historian stands by a full-size replica of the
first aircraft and tells the story in rivetting detail. This is a visit well worth the time if you are in the Virginia/North Carolina area of the USA.