The Wright Brothers National Memorial

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is part of a rich Kill Devil Hills history and one of the top Outer Banks things to do. The Wright Brothers chose this area to test their flying machines because there were many hills and a strong ocean breeze. It was perfect to lift the machines off the ground.

Nestled at the bottom of the hill that witnessed the first flight, this attraction is well worth a stop. Out of all the Outer Banks historical sites and family friendly activities, this one holds the most intriguing past and is a fascinating memorial site. The museum here features many of the Wright Brothers’ ideas, and holds many of their prototypes.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were American inventors. They created the first controlled flight on December 17, 1903, then went on to develop a flying machine as late as 1905. They were the first inventors to make fixed-wing powered flight a possibility.

wright brothers

They did this through their three-axis control invention, which helped early pilots steer aircraft, maintaining equilibrium. This is a system still used today. The brothers are credited for solving the problem of flight during a time when other inventors were only concentrating on building bigger engines.

Among their accomplishments was the idea to use a wind tunnel to collect data about flight, which was unprecedented. Their first patent was for the aerodynamic control system that helped move the machine’s surfaces.

They created breakthroughs in their shop using printing presses, motors, bicycles, and other machines. It was the bicycle that led them to believe that an unstable machine could be controlled through practice. They tested their theories extensively with gliders, increasing their piloting skills. After viewing the actual hill that they used, it will be easy to see why they chose this area for their tests.

Like most famous figures, the Wright Brothers have their critics. Some refute the fact that the brothers created these breakthroughs. They claim that the brothers were smart enough to run a business, but did not have the patience needed to test the various inventions. Others attest that the brothers took the credit from one of the employees in their bicycle shop, who actually invented the prototype to steer an airplane. Whatever really happened, history has attributed flying to the Wright Brothers.

After the brothers figured out their initial flight, they spent years trying to convince various governments to review their flying machine. They wanted to get rich by selling the design. They also spent this time trying to fly from the water, but never succeeded with these experiments.

The United States was not interested, but France responded positively. They traveled to France, meeting with officials from there, and from Germany and Britain. Ironically, the brothers met an American general in France who talked his superiors into being interested in the design.

Finally, the brothers received a bid from the United States. The government was finally impressed, and asked companies to bid on building the machines. The brothers won a contract from the United States and with France.

They returned to Kitty Hawk to try to test products privately, but it was too late. They had already gained fame, and a New York City newspaper sent photographers to North Carolina. The brothers were exposed and their fame was sealed.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial is beautiful, fascinating and worth stopping by, but it is only one part of the thrilling history of the Outer Banks. This beautiful area offers a number of opportunities for the whole family.

Discover amazing Outer Banks vacation rentals to have a home base while exploring Outer Banks history and the many family friendly attractions of the area. There’s a flair for exploration here, so be sure to take it all in while staying in a home-like atmosphere.


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PO Box 1375 • Nags Head, NC 27959
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