Monday, July 11, 2011

come fly with me.

Yesterday, R and I drove down to Kitty Hawk, NC to see something he has been wanting to see for a very long time.

The site of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flight.

On December 17th, 1903, on a windy day in the sandy beach hills of North Carolina, those brothers made history when, for 12 seconds, their flying machine made the first free, controlled, and sustained air flight in the history of humankind. Needless to say, we got caught up in the drama of it all.

The big boulder is where their airplane first left the ground, and the the first little boulder in the distance is where it came back down. The other little boulders past it are flights 2, 3, and waaay in the distance, flight 4, (they really got the hang of it that time). It was cool to sort of pay homage to the humble beginnings of aviation. Without those short flights, how would our loved ones come visit us in as short as a few hours? Without that hop, skip, and jump of a flight that day, we would have no Blue Angels and football game fly-by's, no first class or in-flight movies. And tell me this, if Wilbur and Orville had never left the ground in their flying machine, what would a six year old R have decided his deep passion in life would be?

Even Wilbur got it.

It really was cool to see it in person. Especially after seeing so many replicas in flight museums across the country. (It's become a joke that every museum we go to has a Wright flyer replica. I can think of four right off the top of my head, five including the real one in at the Smithsonian. And yes, we go to enough airplane museums to have jokes about them. Such is my life.)

This was pretty cool, too. This is a plaque with a little piece of wood and fabric from a wing of the 1903 flyer that Orville gave to the family of his older brother, Lorin. Years later, they gave it to Neil Armstrong to take with him to the moon. Then on December 16th, 2003, Neil brought it back to Kitty Hawk to the Memorial. So it went from the first flight ever, to the moon, and back in exactly 100 years.

But it wasn't all awestruck aviation moments. We also learned about this 'lil lady.

That's right, Betty Skelton, first woman aerobatics champion and aviation sweetheart. And also the Paris Hilton of her day, toting her little dog around. When I laughed out loud at the idea of her little pooch doing aerobatics with her in her plane, the park ranger gave me a dirty look. He was pretty old, so there's a good chance he knew Flyin' Betty personally. But I mean, really, doesn't everything about that portrait say, 'Too fabulous for her own good?'

I suppose we have Wilbur and Orville to thank for that as well.

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