Wright Brothers National Memorial

Commemorating First Flight

The Wright Brothers National Memorial commemorates the first time a heavier than air vehicle was able to accomplish sustained powered flight. This achievement by Wilbur and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903, came after almost three years of study and analysis at the Kill Devil Hills site.

Kill Devil Hills NC was selected by the brothers not only for its remoteness, but more importantly, the sustained winds of the area.

© Shelley Chamberlin Photography
View from atop the Wright Brothers Memorial

The Wright Brothers National Memorial, also known as the Wright Brothers Monument, was dedicated in 1932. The 60 foot granite monument sits atop a 90 foot hill in Kill Devil Hills. The views from the top of the hill are breathtaking.

Replica of the Wright Brothers airplane

The Wright Brothers Memorial, in addition to the monument, has several things to see. A newly renovated museum was introduced in 2003 as part of the Centennial of Flight Celebration. In addition to a replica of the original airplane (the original being located in the Smithsonian Institute), there are also other interesting artifacts from the Wright Brothers' stay.

First Flight starting point Markers denoting the landing of the first through third flight attempts

Outside on the grounds, you will find two wooden sheds recreated where the brothers stayed and kept their airplane. The sheds were recreated based on photos from the time. There are also markers indicating where the airplane took off and landed in each of the four flights.

Marker denoting the landing of the fourth flight attempt Picture of the flight path taken from the fourth marker

Of all of the sights, it is the monument that calls your attention. The Wright Brothers Memorial Act appointed the Secretaries of War, Navy and Commerce to select a committee, and so the group was formed on August 27, 1927. The large hill upon which the monument was to be built was a large sand dune, much like Jockeys Ridge, and so stabilization efforts began in 1927 as well. The stabilization efforts have led to the single biggest change from what the Wright Brothers experienced in 1903.

The design of the Wright Brothers National Memorial was created by Rodgers and Poor, a New York architectural firm. The monument was dedicated on November 14, 1932.

Plaque honor of Orville and Wilbur Wright

We have been to the Wright Brothers National Memorial twice, once before and once after the Centennial Celebration in 2003. It is worth the trip to go and see the struggles the Wright brothers endured during their three years encamped at this location. It is interesting to see the flight pattern on each of the four trips, but it is the Wright Brothers Monument that will draw your attention. Capped with a beacon on the top, the granite monument, constructed of 1,200 tons of granite, more than 2,000 tons of gravel, more than 800 tons of sand, and nearly 400 tons of cement is awe inspiring. Having your picture taken next to the Wright Brothers Monument will give you a feel for its sheer magnitude truly fitting of this amazing feat. On the base of the Monument are these words:


Picture of the base of the Wright Brothers Monument

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is open seven days a week year round. The visitor center and Centennial Pavilion are open 9-6 in the summer months and 9-5 from September through May.

Follow the link to see what memorabilia is being sold on eBay.

To find where the Wright Brothers National Memorial is located, follow this link and look for Kill Devil Hills on the map.

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