99th Anniversary Launches Centennial Of Flight Events
Tuesday, Dec. 17, marked the 99th anniversary of the Wright brothers' famous flight at Kitty Hawk, and it was also the kickoff date for a year's worth of celebrations and commemorations leading up to the big 100th in 2003. In Washington, D.C., movie star/pilot John Travolta hosted a ceremony for the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Invited guests assembled in the main hall beneath the wings of the original Wright 1903 Flyer. Awards were bestowed upon 12 aviation pioneers, starting with Orville and Wilbur. Amanda Wright Lane, a great-grand-niece of the brothers, accepted on their behalf. Among the others honored were astronauts John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and Shannon Lucid; Charles Lindbergh, represented by his grandson Erik; the 99s; and the Tuskegee Airmen. A presidential proclamation declared Dec. 17 as Wright Brothers Day. President Bush, any chance of making that a paid holiday, at least for us aviators?
Meanwhile, at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, at Kill Devil Hills, N.C., about 2,000 people watched under blue skies as 99 aircraft flew overhead in an airborne tribute. And in Dayton, Ohio, a new $1 million visitors center was dedicated at Huffman Prairie, on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. This 84-acre pasture was a testing ground for the Wright brothers, where they learned to control and maneuver their machines in the air in 1904 and 1905. It was the first airport and the first flying school. Also, the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics this week announced an art contest for children ages 5 to 16 from around the world, with the theme, "Celebrating Flight -- The Next 100 Years." Stay tuned, lots more to come in the days leading up to Dec. 17, 2003.