"Seven Ton Rock Set Up to Mark Birth of Flight", The Daily Advance (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 18 November 1932
SEVEN TON ROCK SET UP TO MARK BIRTH OF FLIGHT
National Aeronautical Association Placed Heavy Boulder on Exact Spot Of
First Successful Attempt
UNVEILED IN 1928
Impressive Ceremonies at Which Orville Wright was Present Were Held; -
Replaced Tate Marker.
Standing on the spot where the Wright Brothers took off for their first
successful flight in a power- driven airplane is a seven ton boulder of
North Carolina granite, erected by the National Aeronautical Association
in commemoration of man's victory over the air.
The boulder was unveiled December 17, 1928 with appropriate ceremonies. A
tablet on its face contains this inscription:
THE FIRST SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT OF AN AIRPLANE WAS MADE FROM THIS SPOT BY
ORVILLE WRIGHT DECEMBER 17, 1903 IN A MACHINE DESIGNED AND BUILT BY WILBUR
WRIGHT AND ORVILLE WRIGHT THIS TABLET WAS ERECTED BY THE NATIONAL
AERONAUTICAL ASSOCIATION OF THE U.S.A. DECEMBER 17, 1928 TO COMMEMORATE
THE TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THIS EVENT.
The first marker in honor of the original flight was set up in June of the
previous year by Captain William J. Tate, veteran light keeper of
Coinjock, who had been the first to greet the pioneer aviators when they
landed at Kitty Hawk to begin their experiments.
This marker was constructed out of rough boards and rusty nails salvaged
from the ruins of the first camp of the Wrights.
In November of the following year it was announced that the National
Aeronautical Association planned to place a permanent memorial, distinct
from the Government memorial on Kill Devil Hill, on the spot of the first
flight. Shortly afterward Capt. Tate received a letter from the
Association giving exact wording of the inscription to be placed on the
The contract for placing the boulder was let to Ziegler and Duke of
Elizabeth City and in December they started the seven-ton mass of granite
rock on its way to Kill Devil Hill from Mt. Airy, where it had been
Little difficulty was encountered in moving the big rock to the siding at
Shawboro, and from the train to a truck at this point. But it was another
story when the trucked started over the dirt detour around a new road
being built between Currituck Courthouse and Coinjock. Here the truck
capsized and it was with great difficulty that it was righted. A few miles
further the soft surface of the road gave way under its terrific burden
and the truck sank to its axles. More hard work was required to extricate
After this things went smoothly as far as Point Harbor. Here another
obstacle was encountered. It had been proposed to transfer the boulder
from the truck to a flat boat, but this plan had to be abandoned because
the pier pilings sank under the great weight imposed on them. This made it
necessary to dredge a channel in order to bring the boat close enough to
shore for a direct transfer. Finally however, the transfer was effected
and no further difficulties were in placing the boulder.
The boulder was placed on a concrete base set on the spot of the first
flight, under the direction of Edward A. Sharp, chief
clerk and property officer of the National Advisory Committee Langley
Field. A mound was placed around the boulder, covering the base and making
the huge rock appear to be set in the sand. Contract for this work was let
to Orville Wright Baum of Kitty Hawk by Captain Tate acting for Mr. Sharp.
Today a thick surf of Bermuda grass covers the sand, and the elevation on
which the boulder is set is circled by a sand-asphalt road. The distance
between the boulder and the base of Kill Devil Hill is now 1200 feet. The
hill is estimated to have moved several hundred feet since 1903. The spot
where the marker stands was only 700 feet from the foot of the hill in
1903, according to Orville Wright.
The boulder was unveiled on the 25th anniversary of the first flight. The
surviving brother, Orville Wright was present and was the center of
international celebration. Senator Hiram Bingham of Connecticut, present
of the National Aeronautical Association unveiled the marker. Captain Tate
made a short address on the Wrights, as he knew them 25 years before.
|Citation:|| "Seven Ton Rock Set Up to Mark Birth of Flight", The Daily Advance (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 18 November 1932.|
|Location:|| North Carolina Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858 USA|