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120 Years Since Kitty Hawk

White Lightning™ celebrates the 120th anniversary of amateur-built aircraft. At 10:35am on December 17, 1903, Orville Wright became the first man to achieve sustained, controlled, powered flight. The world would never be the same.

The Wright Flyer made four flights in December 1903, the longest one 852 feet, lasting 59 seconds with an airspeed of about 34 mph. F
or the first time, a manned, heavier-than-air machine left the ground by its own power, moved forward under control without losing speed, and landed on a point as high as that from which it started.

By comparison, today’s amateur-built aircraft like the White Lightning RV-14 have a range of about 800 miles and cruise at 200 mph, performance the Wright brothers could not have even imagined possible. 

The Wright Flyer aircraft did not have an electrical system or instrumentation. Today’s amateur-built aircraft have sophisticated electronic flight decks, navigation, instrumentation, and autopilots. White Lightning GPUs provide electrical power for these systems for ground operations. The technology is worlds apart; the spirit of flight exploration is exactly the same. 

The list of Wright Brothers’ inventions required to achieve powered flight is remarkable, any one of which would be considered significant breakthroughs - 3-axis flight controls, lightweight engine, airfoil propeller, wind tunnel, etc.

At the end of 1903, there was only one experimental, amateur-built aircraft, the Wright Flyer. 120 years later, there are currently more than 33,000 amateur-built/homebuilt aircraft licensed by FAA.

Plan your virtual trip to Kitty Hawk and learn more about the Wright Brothers at www.nps.gov/wrbr/

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