Wright Brothers’ 113th First Flight Anniversary To Be Celebrated December 17
The 113th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight in what is now Kill Devil Hills will be celebrated on the site where Orville and Wilbur took off into history at Wright Brothers National Memorial on Saturday, December 17.
Read on for the full press release and schedule of events!
On Saturday, December 17, 2016, the National Park Service is pleased to be partnering with the First Flight Society to celebrate the 113th anniversary of the first powered flight, the centennial of U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Aviation, and the centennial of the National Park Service.
The anniversary event will take place at Wright Brothers National Memorial and entrance fees to the park will be waived for the day.
First Flight Society President Mike Smith will open the ceremony at 9:00 am with welcoming remarks by National Park Service Deputy Director for Congressional and External Affairs Denise Ryan and Outer Banks Group Superintendent David Hallac.
The keynote speaker for this special event will be Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, the 25th Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Following the keynote address, Dr. Tom Crouch of the National Air & Space Museum will provide a tribute to First Flight Shrine inductees Captain Frank Erickson and Commodore Stewart Graham.
Captain Erickson was assigned to the first USCG helicopter detachment and became the first USCG helicopter pilot. He later trained 102 U.S. and British military personnel to fly helicopters.
Commodore Graham started in the USCG as a surfman, but later earned his wings as a naval pilot. After seeing a helicopter demonstration, he immediately signed up for training and became USCG helicopter pilot #2, right behind his mentor, Captain Frank Erickson.
Together, Erickson and Graham were part of the dramatic 1946 “Miracle at Gander” rescue in Newfoundland, when a DC-4 airplane crashed in a remote location. Their successful rescue of 18 passengers demonstrated the ability of helicopters to save lives in challenging and isolated circumstances.
Thanks to the heroic determination of Frank Erickson and Steward Graham, the helicopter is irreplaceable to today’s USCG.
The event will conclude with a flyover by USCG aircraft and a wreath laying at the First Flight boulder led by descendants of the witnesses of the First Flight.
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