The Monument to a Century of Flight
"Where Dreams Still Take Flight" - Dare County Tourism Board 2003
It's the shoulder season in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, that time of year when you can have blissful, delightful weather or typhoon like conditions. Today's arrival came with high tide coastal warnings and rough Atlantic seas proving their majesty as they threw the sand dunes about. The wailing winds, strong enough to shake the stilted cottage we're staying in, proved an excellent foil to this land of flight.
For land of flight, it is home to the famous Wright Brothers and the beatific Kitty Hawk, with proof of celebration of humanity's soaring spirit memorialized in the Visitor Center and Rest Stop not far from the bridge that leads you to these barrier islands.
The Monument to a Century of Flight, dedicated on November 8, 2003, created by architect Benjamin B. Cahoon and artists Glenn Eure, Hanna Jubran, and Jodi Hollnagel Jubran stands like a steel Stonehenge, shaped like an airplane's rudder to lead us into the next century.
Welcome to Kitty Hawk, First in Flight
These fourteen stainless steel wing-shaped pylons vary in height and orbit 120 feet, a little longer than your mobile phone's panorama capacity, commemorating the distance flown by brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903.
Written upon each pylon are landmark events, from the Wright Brothers first sustained, controlled flight in "heavier than air machine
," 1910 Madame La Baronne de Laroche becoming the first woman pilot licensed, 1923 in-flight refueling introduced, 1927 Charles Lindbergh's solo trans-Atlantic flight, 1942 introduction of ejection seats, 1947's breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager, 1957 Sputnik, and the space race and ongoing exploration.
Making History, Aeronautic style
The monument is handicapped accessible, with a smooth path from the parking lot for strollers or wheelchairs as well as stairs.
You may miss it on the way in, so stop to read the back of the monument marker, "High Flight" by John G. Magee, Jr., a 19-year-old American serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 Britain.
"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace where never lark, or even eagle flew- and, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand and touched the face of God.