Wright Brothers National Memorial

January 3, 2020
Wright Brothers National Memorial scaled terrain model showing the site of the first controlled powered flight in December of 1903

This model depicts the National Memorial to the location of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers. It is one of many we have done for visitor’s centers all over the country.

With the recent news about commercial flights into Earth orbit, it’s easy to forget that powered flight, meaning airplanes, is less than 120 years old. And the birthplace of the age of flight is in Kittyhawk, North Carolina, right next to the Outer Banks, some of the best beaches on the East Coast.

But the brothers were wanting isolation, not a day at the beach. At the site, they started with glider experiments, developing some of the controls that are common to planes today. The two bicycle makers helped build their own engine to power it and shipped it from their home in Dayton, Ohio, to Kittyhawk. On a stormy and cold December day in 1902, the brothers launched their invention into a 120-foot flight at the foot of the few hills around.


The first flight is mapped out on the museum model, along with the two other attempts the brothers made that day, the third of which reached 200 feet. This scaled terrain model is at 1″ = 80′ scale, measures 46″ by 34″, and is a tactile model, with various textures for different park features, and Braille translation for the visually impaired.