Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kill Devil Hill -- Wright Brothers Memorials



I'm spending the week on the No. Carolina coast (Kill Devil Hills, Outer Banks) with my wife, our 2 adult kids, and our daughter-in-law. It's been relaxing and a great chance for us to all be together before Linda and I head back overseas and Stephen and Anna head back to Boston for their 2nd year of graduate school -- our daughter will continue in her current job in Richmond.

The weather has been cool and the wind pretty strong for the last couple of days so we haven't spent a lot of time on the beach. Actually, the red flags were out today, warning people to stay out of the water. So, we went to the Wright Brothers Memorial -- the site of the first powered, manned, heavier-than-air, sustained airplane flight.

I was pretty impressed -- not so much by the exhibits, etc. but by how quickly air flight developed. Unpowered, manned glider flight was still fairly new in 1900 when the Wright brothers decided to give it a try. The technology was way underdeveloped, to the point that Wilbur and Orville were ready to call it quits after their first attempts -- it was too dangerous. But, something turned things around for them and over the next year, the Wright brothers actually developed much of the control technology that is still used in the modern aviation. Another year later, they had built their own, aluminum block engine and perfected their propellers and flew 4 successful flights within a period of about 2 hours on 17 December 1903. They would have flown more, but a strong gust of wind flipped the plane and basically broke it. From that point, technology developed at an almost inconceivable rate -- the first trans-continental flight (across the US) took place only 8 years later.

After the presentation, we wandered out onto the grounds. It was amazing to see the difference in the distances covered between the first 3 flights and the 4th flights:
1st flight -- about 120'
2nd flight -- about 175'
3rd flight -- about 200'
4th flight -- about 852'

Then we went up to the monument. Being the beach, the 90' high Kill Devil Hill gives one a pretty good panoramic view of the area. The picture is a stitched composite of 9 pictures that I took.

A fun afternoon!

Running here has been interesting. I don't really like running a perfectly flat course. While hills are not necessarily fun, they do provide some variety. Plus, the wind is interesting. The wind was the primary reason the Wright brothers chose Kill Devil Hill as their testing ground. The 10-25 mph winds do make it a challenge. If you're interested, here are my routes:
5.48 miles
6.11 miles
5.14 miles
Run well, y'all,
Bob
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