"Soaring 100" Event Celebrates Wright Glider Flights

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Hang glider enthusiasts will celebrate 100 years of sport soaring this weekend at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina. The event marks the date of a glider flight by Orville Wright, on Oct. 24, 1911, that lasted for almost 10 minutes, setting a record that held for almost 10 years. That flight marked the start of the "sport and science of modern soaring as we know it today," according to the event organizers. A variety of sailplanes and hang gliders will fly into Kill Devil Hills between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. "For pilots, this is equivalent to landing on hallowed ground," says the event web site.

Orville Wright's glider flights at Kill Devil Hills in October 1911 were "some of the world's most dramatic glider flights ever," according to the National Park Service. "Not only did they deepen man's understanding of flight; they also served as the birth of the recreational sport of soaring." Wright made about 90 flights, often into winds of 35 mph or more. On Oct. 24, 1911, flying in a 50-mph wind, Wright set a world soaring record of 9 minutes and 45 seconds in the air. The record stood until 1921. This weekend's full schedule of commemorative events, held at both Kill Devil Hills and the nearby Wright Brothers National Memorial, was organized by a partnership of the Soaring Society of America, the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, the National Soaring Museum, and the Vintage Sailplane Association.