Centennial Pilgrimage: A Flight To Kill Devil Hills

The soul of aviation probably has no greater Mecca than the dunes of Kill Devil Hills, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Above these once shifting and untamed sands, now resting beneath 425 manicured acres of grass, stands a hallowed shaft of granite, over ninety feet high and crowning one central dune, also stabilized under a carpet of green. The striking memorial, a 60-foot high triangular pylon ornamented with outspread wings in bas-relief, stands like some colossal gnomon, presiding over both its own circular hill and the open spaces beyond. These grounds embrace the Wright Brothers' first four successful powered flights, as well as most of their earlier glider experiments. Since it was established by Congress in 1927 to commemorate their achievement, generations have flocked to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Now, it was my turn.

Flying the Double-Winger

When I was a kid I was always looking to the skies. One of my earliest memories is seeing the Goodyear Blimp float past my dining-room window. Absolutely guaranteed to make my youthful heart race was the silhouette of a pair of wings, stacked around a single airframe -- a biplane, what my father called, in his transplanted West Virginia drawl, a "double-winger."

From Dreams to Reality: Part 4

Success! After years of experimentation, building on the work of countless others yet furthering the science of aeronautics well beyond any others before them, Wilbur and Orville Wright had solved the elusive problem of aircraft control in gliding flight. The ultimate prize, however, was to combine that control with power to go when, where and however long they wished. The Wright Brothers needed an engine.

From Dream to Reality: A Wright Brothers Primer, Part 3

We all know the story of how two bicycle-shop brothers from Ohio built and flew the first successful heavier-than-air aircraft from the dunes of North Carolina on December 17, 1903. Last time we looked at the path of science and imagination that created the atmosphere in which the Wright Brothers began their work. This time we'll look at how the Wrights adapted that experience to finally conquer the air.

Uncommon History: A Wright Brothers Primer, Part 2

We all know the story of the two bicycle-shop brothers from Ohio who built and flew the first successful heavier-than-air aircraft from the dunes of North Carolina on December 17, 1903. From our vantage point one century later, though, many of us fail to appreciate the meticulous work that led to the dawn of aviation ... much of it done not by the Wrights themselves, but those who had come before. Last week we learned just a bit about Sir George Caley, William Sanford Henson, Felix Du Temple and more. This week it's on to more familiar names...

Police State

Sunday March 30, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago sent a task force to Meigs field -- the lovely airport on the lake -- and had the runway destroyed. The facility handled some 1,500 instrument flights per month and provided some relief to air traffic controllers handling the already overwhelmed O'Hare airspace.