North Carolina & Ohio celebrate 118th anniversary of first flight together, debut Wright Route

The Wright Cycle Co. building is part of Dayton Aviation National Historical Park [courtesy TourismOhio] and Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills.[courtesy Jason Cole]

Orville and Wilbur Wright changed the course of human history in 12 seconds when they completed the first successful heavier-than-air powered flight on the sands at Big Kill Devil Hill, on Dec. 17, 1903.

But their journey to the skies began long before they set foot on the barrier islands of the Outer Banks.

Now, three nonprofit organizations that support aviation history are thrilled to announce a joint virtual celebration of the 118th anniversary of the first flight and the official launch of, an online hub that connects the legacy of aviation of North Carolina, “First in Flight,” and Ohio, the “Birthplace of Aviation,” and puts the “aviation rivalry” to rest.

Over the past year, Outer Banks Forever, National Aviation Heritage Area and First Flight Society have worked closely with the National Park Service at Wright Brothers National Memorial and Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park to link the Wright brothers’ stories from North Carolina, Ohio and the states in between through virtual and in-person learning experiences.

“Our national parks and nonprofit organizations have been friends for many years, and we enjoy working together to tell the inspiring and important stories of how aviation has changed our world,” said Jessica Barnes, Director of Outer Banks Forever, the official nonprofit partner of Wright Brothers National Memorial. “Our co-produced virtual event and the Wright Route invite everyone to learn about the Wright brothers’ quest for powered flight in new ways.”

On Dec. 17, Outer Banks Forever and National Aviation Heritage Area will jointly livestream the ceremonies being held at Wright Brothers National Memorial and Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park on their Facebook pages. The First Flight Society’s celebration at Wright Brothers National Memorial will begin at 9 a.m. (EST), and the celebration at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park will begin at 10 a.m. (EST).

Ahead of the virtual celebration, officially launches today as a free online resource that provides a fuller picture of the Wright brothers’ lives and work and encourages aviation enthusiasts to travel between North Carolina and Ohio to explore the Wright brothers’ legacy in a new way.

Currently, major stops along the Wright Route in are Dayton, Cincinnati, Norfolk, Elizabeth City, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills.

Many of the activities that are included as part of the Wright Route — or that can be done along the Wright Route — are inspired by the Wright brothers themselves, like biking, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, photography and more.

The Wright Route also offers recommendations for museums and historical sites to visit as well as family-friendly experiences and excursions to have as part of the journey through the Wright brothers’ story.

“Not only can you experience two ultimate aviation heritage tourism destinations on the Wright Route, but you can also discover the towns where the Wright brothers ate, rested and shopped for supplies,” said Mackensie Wittmer, Executive Director of the National Aviation Heritage Area. “We are proud to combine our messaging for greater economic impact in Dayton, Kitty Hawk and all the towns in between.”

“We are thrilled to partner with these two terrific organizations,” said Mike Fonseca, President of the First Flight Society. “It’s vitally important to share the full story of the Wright brothers, from their childhood and early experiments in Dayton to their successful flights in Kitty Hawk and beyond.”

To learn more about the Wright Route and begin your next aviation-themed adventure, please visit

To access the livestream of the first flight anniversary celebrations, click here.

Wright Route is neither associated with, sponsored by nor maintained by a travel agency or a tourism bureau. It is a free online resource for educational purposes.