Nonprofit partners in both states to co-produce virtual event, launch  Wright Route to put ‘aviation rivalry’ to rest

KITTY HAWK, NC and DAYTON, OH — 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 of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, 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 ForeverNational 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 are Dayton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Norfolk, Virginia; Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; and Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. 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. 


About Outer Banks Forever

Outer Banks Forever is the official nonprofit partner of the Outer Banks national parks — Cape Hatteras National SeashoreFort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial — helping to protect and enhance these special places.

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About National Aviation Heritage Area

National Aviation Heritage Area is a private, not for profit corporation designated by Congress as the management entity of the heritage area, guided by the National Aviation Heritage Alliance. The organization seeks to conserve, interpret, develop and promote the historic resources of the National Aviation Heritage Area and make the Dayton region the recognized global center of aviation heritage and premier destination for aviation heritage tourism, sustaining the legacy of the Wright brothers.

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About First Flight Society

First Flight Society is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Chartered in 1927, First Flight Society (formerly Kill Devil Hills Memorial Association) initially set about the task of acquiring the site where Orville and Wilbur Wright made their four historic flights in 1903.

Learn more at and follow on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.