Orville and Wilbur Wright changed history when they flew their heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills on a cold and windy December day in 1903.
From Charlotte, it's close to a six-hour drive (330 miles), one way.
Take Interstate 85 east to Durham, follow I-40 East to Raleigh, then take U.S. 64 East to the Outer Banks. Bear left and take N.C. 168 north. The Wright Brothers Memorial will be on your left at MP 8.
To see and do
Manned flight in a heavier-than-air machine was a dream of many who came before Wilbur and Orville Wright - who achieved it Dec. 17, 1903, when Orville traveled 120 feet in 12 seconds. It was the first of four flights that day.
A lot had to go just right that day for flight to occur: At the 100th anniversary of the "first flight" event, a painstakingly accurate reproduction of the Wright's machine was unable to take off.
At the memorial, you can learn of all the Wrights' preparations, setbacks and even about some of the things that worked that perhaps shouldn't have. Example: the iconic photograph taken at the moment of lift-off by local resident John Daniels. Few know that Daniels had never taken a picture until that day.
In addition to outstanding exhibits, the memorial has films, presentations and interactive programs.
In the main building, you'll find full-scale reproductions of the glider and flyer the Wrights used in 1902 and 1903. Outside, stand on the spots where the four flights of that famous day began, and ended.
The most visible part of the memorial is the 60-foot granite monument atop Big Kill Devil Hill. The Wrights made over 1,000 glider flights there to test out their theories and work out design problems. When built in 1928, it was the largest monument ever built for a living person. It carries this inscription: "In commemoration of the conquest of air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, conceived by Genius, achieved by Dauntless Resolution and Unconquerable Faith."
The Wrights experimented with gliders here for a number of years; in a flight in 1911, they set a world record of 9 minutes and 45 seconds in a wind of greater than 50 mph.
The monument often has special programs for youngsters.
A full-size bronze and steel replica of the flyer, as well as statures of all the participants in the first powered flight, seem to dare aspiring aviators to imagine the thrill of being in the Wright place at the right time in 1903.