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The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C., as seen at sunset from the beach.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C., as seen at sunset from the beach. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A small plane flies past the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C., after taking off from the adjacent airstrip.
A small plane flies past the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C., after taking off from the adjacent airstrip. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Stones mark the endpoints of the Wright Brothers' first four flights at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. The progress made between flights 3 and 4 can be seen by the distance of the fourth stone.
Stones mark the endpoints of the Wright Brothers' first four flights at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. The progress made between flights 3 and 4 can be seen by the distance of the fourth stone. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A commemorative stone at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. In the background are the visitors center on the right and the stone marking the endpoint of the second flight on the left.
A commemorative stone at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. In the background are the visitors center on the right and the stone marking the endpoint of the second flight on the left. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Replicas of pioneer aircraft at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
Replicas of pioneer aircraft at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A reconstruction of the Wright Brothers' early 20th century living quarters at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
A reconstruction of the Wright Brothers' early 20th century living quarters at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A reconstruction of a storage shed used to store airplanes at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
A reconstruction of a storage shed used to store airplanes at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Flight-themed scenes on a door at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
Flight-themed scenes on a door at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A bust or Wilbur Wright at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
A bust or Wilbur Wright at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A bust of Orville Wright at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
A bust of Orville Wright at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)

When the Wright Brothers came from Dayton, Ohio, to Kitty Hawk, N.C., at the start of the 20th century, their destination was a windswept, deserted beach. That is to say, the perfect place to test their airplanes with few interruptions or prying eyes.

Today, the field on which they brought the world into the age of flight is surrounded by hotels, private residences, surf shops, snack bars and the rest of what makes the Outer Banks a popular vacation spot. But the brothers' accomplishments in 1903 are remembered at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where visitors can see replicas of their planes and the quarters in which they lived, and walk the route of their first four flights.

Towering above the site, atop a 90-foot sand dune, is a 60-foot monument to the accomplishments of the bicycle store owners who changed the way we live.

gromelski.joe@stripes.com

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