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Dec. 17, 1903: Wright Brothers Take Flight at NC's Outer Banks

115 years ago today, the Wright brothers took flight at the North Carolina coast, connecting our state to one of the most important inventions in history.

It was 115 years ago Monday that Wilbur and Orville Wright etched their names in history and embarked on the first flight in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. They were the first to demonstrate sustained flight of a heavier-than-air machine under complete control of the pilot. 

December 17 marks Wright Brothers Day! It's an all important day not just for North Carolina but for the aviation industry. TAKING FLIGHT It all started with a dream made possible by the Wright Brothers to fly.

Dec. 17 is nationally recognized as Wright Brothers Day.

The brothers' innovation is one of North Carolina's seminal moments. As most drivers know, the state honors their "First in Flight" accomplishment on their license plates with a sketch of the brothers' plane. 

Orville piloted the first flight that lasted 12 seconds and went 120 feet. On the fourth and final flight of the day, Wilbur's flight traveled 852 feet, staying airborne for 59 seconds. 

The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh is making a change to their Wright Brothers exhibit.They're swapping out their 1903 Flyer Replica -- for a 1902 Glider Replica. Related: First In Flight: Flying With The Wright Brothers They packed up the 1903 model that was on loan, and sent it back to Kitty Hawk where renovations have been completed.

What the Wright Brothers started is now a $518 billion industry worldwide.

  • In 2015, nearly 3.6 billion passengers were carried by the world’s airlines.
  • The aviation and related tourism industry employs 63 million worldwide with 9.9 million working directly for the aviation industry.

The brothers picked Kitty Hawk because they needed a number of conditions for their flying experiments: steady winds, high sand dunes, limited obstructions including trees and buildings and also isolation.

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