Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 20: Cape Hatteras and Kitty Hawk

After our adventures on Ocracoke, we headed up the island chain, via ferry to Cape Hatteras.

Cool lighthouse. But it was cold, windy, and full of school field trips, so we didn't go to the top.

On to Roanoke Island, the site of the first British colony in the Americas, founded in 1587.  It was doomed, of course, and what happened to the 115 original colonists remains a mystery.  Did the Native Americans kill them all?  Did they die of disease? Hunger? Cold? Did they join forces with the Indians and move? Nobody knows....but archaeologists are trying to figure it out.  They found this old fort (I know, doesn't look like much) and this is pretty much the entire park.

There is an Elizabethan Garden located on the grounds, but the entry fee was more than I was willing to spend.  I wish I had though, because it looked like it was beautiful.

Roanoke proved to be useful again during the Civil War.

Kitty Hawk lies at the northern end of the Barrier Island chain. It was fascinating. Above are life sized replicas of both the glider the Wright brothers used to perform flight experiments and the first plane that ever flew under motor power.

Lift, Power, and Control.  Orville and Wilbur (AWESOME names) were convinced that a flying machine was possible, but they needed to solve the 3 main problems of flight.  There was some knowledge in the field but, for the most part, the Wright brothers had to discover the solutions themselves.  

They looked everywhere for the perfect place for their experiments. They needed wind for their gliders and sand for safe crash landings.  They made a camp at Kitty Hawk and spent a lot of time there over 4 years, conducting over 1,000 experiments before finally achieving flight.

Not bad....

The site of the first motor powered flight in history.  The stone landmark on the left is where the plane started.  You can see the markers for the 4 flights in the middle of the picture.

The first flight, on the left of the picture, was 120 feet in 12 seconds. The fourth flight, marked at the far right, was 853 feet in 59 seconds. 

The reaction from the world was mixed.  While some were astounded at the thought that flight was achieved, most didn't believe the claim and some thought the brothers had stolen ideas and research from other scientists.  And, since Orville and Wilbur were very careful about showing their research and plane to anyone for patent concerns, it took a while for their name to be linked with the first flight.

But, it finally did.  They got a patent (not for a plane, but for a system of aerodynamic control of flying machines) and a groovy memorial park!

This picture is taken from the site of the first flight.  The hill was the site used by the brothers for over 1,000 glider experiments in preparation of the flight.  It used to be covered in sand, but has been planted so the wind doesn't erode it away.

Wilbur was the oldest, so he got his name in first, although Orville's the one who took the first flight.

Wow.  66 years.  

1 comment:

  1. 1000 experiments and they had to figure it out, this thing called flying. Just like today trailblazers have to figure it out, you are the only one once you figure it out you make it easier for you competition... sounds like a plan if you are the competition. but hey no 2 doesn't have a monument and popcorn??