The Birthplace of Modern Aviation

"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true

is really true, there would be little hope of advance.” Orville Wright

State 38: North Carolina - April 27 to May 3, 2018


We woke up at a Walmart in Greenville, NC well rested, and ready for a brand new day. Yesterday, we celebrated Earth Day by visiting the worlds biggest world, and we could not wait to see what adventures lie ahead. The first task of the day is to drive 128 miles East to Kill Devil’s Hills, NC for the Cross Country Couple's "Historic Location" for North Carolina: Wright Brothers National Memorial. Orville and Wilbur Wright were engineers, inventors, businessmen and aviation pioneers. From 1900 to 1903, the Wright Brothers conducted extensive glider tests developing their skills as pilots, and on December 17, 1903 they made the first controlled sustained flight of a powered heavier-than-air fixed wing airplane. Established on March 2, 1927 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966, the Wright Brothers National Memorial preserves, commemorates, and interprets the site of the Wright Brother's first flight. Please see the pictures below of our arrival at the memorial, and me pretending to be an airplane!

After parking Rosie, we noticed the visitor center was undergoing construction, so we headed towards the temporary visitor center housed inside a nearby trailer to learn how best to explore the park. Once inside, I had a very fascinating chat with the Park Ranger who was well versed in aeronautics, and possessed a passion for correcting inaccuracies regarding early aviation history. For example, a very common misconception is the location of the Wright Brother's famous flight occurred in Kitty Hawk, NC, but it actually occurred in an uninhabited area four miles to the South in present day Kill Devil Hills, NC. Since the town of Kill Devil Hills was not established until 1953, the location of the Wright Brothers flight was attributed to Kitty Hawk, since it was the nearest settlement. Thus to be historically accurate, the Wright Brothers first flight occurred near Kitty Hawk, NC in the present day town of Kill Devil Hills, NC. The aforementioned is one of the Park Ranger’s biggest pet peeves, and I promised him I would do my part to set the record straight on my blog!

According to the Park Ranger, another common misconception about the Wright Brothers is they invented the airplane. In 1799, English Engineer; Sir George Cayley is credited with constructing the first fixed wing aircraft capable of carrying a human into the air, and discovering the four forces of flight; weight, lift, drag, and thrust. The Wright Brothers focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control for fixed wing aircrafts. A plane in flight rotates along 3 axis's called: Yaw, Pitch and Roll. Sustained controlled flight would not be become a reality until the ability to control the orientation of a plane in flight was developed to maintain equilibrium. Although the Wright Brothers did not invent the airplane, their contribution to aviation lies in the invention of aerodynamic controls which remains standard on fixed-wing aircrafts to this day.

After winning a coin toss, Wilbur made a three-second flight attempt on December 14, 1903. Unfortunately the plane climbed too steeply, stalled, and dove into the sand resulting in minor damage. After making the required repairs, The Wright Brothers took to the air on December 17, 1903! This would be the day humans had achieved the ability of controlled flight!
The historic first flight occurred at 10:35am, and was piloted by Orville who: flew for a distance of 120 feet, a duration of 12 seconds, and achieved an air speed over ground of 6.8 mph.

The second flight of the day was made by Wilbur who: flew for a distance of 175 feet, a duration of 13 seconds, and achieved an air speed over ground of 9.2 mph.

The third flight of the day was made by Orville who: flew for a distance of 200 feet, a duration of 15 seconds, and achieved an air speed over ground of 9.2 mph.

The fourth and final flight occurred at 12:00 pm by Wilbur who: flew for a distance of 825 feet, a duration of 59 seconds, and achieved an air speed over ground of 9.8 mph.

Orville’s first flight was witnessed by five people: Adam Etheridge, Will Dough, W.C. Brinkley, Johnny Moore, and John Daniels, who took the iconic picture of Orville’s first flight pictured to the left. The location and distances are denoted by granite markers at the exact locations where the first four flights occurred. It was a surreal experience and a proud moment walking the path of where man first partook in controlled fixed wing flight. Please see the pictures below.

If you will, take a walk with me for a moment down memory lane. Imagine yourself on a North Carolina beach in December of 1903, and you and your brother had just made aviation history! Why stop at 4 flights? Why not venture once again into the wild blue yonder? The answer to the aforementioned would prove to be a fascinating story! The Wright Brothers, John Daniels and four others hauled the plane back to the take off position after the successful fourth flight. All of a sudden, a strong gust of wind took hold of the Flyer, and sent it toppling end over end across the field! John Daniel’s found himself trapped between the wings of the plane taking him for a terrifying ride! Thankfully, Daniels was uninjured, but he does have the historical distinction of being the first airplane crash survivor! The Wright Brother's Flyer was severely damaged by the strong winds, and never flew again! The Wright Brothers shipped the plane back home, and years later Orville restored the Flyer. In 1948, the plane was placed inside the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C where it resides to this day!

After completing our walk retracing the Wright Brother's first four flights, we notice a tall stone monument perched upon a hill ¼ mile away, and decided to investigate further. As it turns out, this was the very hill where the Wright Brothers once launched their gliders to practice piloting prior to taking off in the first control powered flights. Perched on top of this historic hill in 1932, a 60-foot-tall granite monument was erected to commemorate the achievement of the Wright Brothers. The inscription on the base of the monument reads. "In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by genius achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith." Please see the pictures below.

As I stood on top of the hill, I saw what appeared to be the Wright Brother's Flyer sitting at its base, and thought for sure I was hallucinating. After all, It was particularly hot the day of our visit, and I left my water bottle in Rosie. In order to rule out heatstroke, I asked Lori for her opinion, and sure enough she saw the plane too. We descended the hill at once to investigate further.

On December, 17th 2003, The Wright Brother’s National Monument was the site of the Centennial of Flight Celebration. During the ceremony, a bronze sculpture by Stephen H. Smith was unveiled depicting a full scale replica of the 1903 Flyer at the moment of the first flight. Surrounding the flyer included those present during the first flight: The Wright Brothers, Adam Etheridge, Will Dough, W.C. Brinkley, Johnny Moore, and John Daniels taking the iconic picture of the first flight. I have seen many sculptures on my cross country trip, but this is my first time encountering an entire historic event cast in bronze! See, I knew I was not seeing things! Around this point dehydration really began setting in, and Lori and I became a little silly with the sculptures! Please see the pictures below.

I hope everyone took notes, because it is time for the Cross Country Couple's Pop Quiz!

Who invented the Fixed Wing Airplane?

A) Donald Trump

B) Leonardo da Vinci

C) Orville Redenbacher

D) Orville & Wilbur Wright

E) Sir George Cayley

F) None of the Above

G) All of the Above

The Wright Brother’s famous first flight occurred on December 17, 1903 in the town today known as:

A) Parachute, VA

B) Crash n’ Burn, CT

C) Mayday, MD

D) Wright Brothers, NC

E) Kitty Hawk, NC

F) Kill Devil Hills, NC

G) None of the above

On December 17 1903, The Wright Brothers made _____ successful flights.

A) 0

B) ½

C) 1

D) 2

E) 3

F) Pi (3.1415)

G) 4

After departing the Wright Brother's National Monument, we were blessed with a beautiful 39 mile drive North along North Carolina’s Outer Banks enroute to the state's Northern border. Our plotted path had us crossing into Eastern Virginia enroute to our 39th state: Maryland. Virginia was the 3rd state we visited, which you can read more about by clicking here. When we first ventured into Virginia 10 months prior, we were virgin vagabonds, but have since paid our dues traveling 45,000+ miles across the lonely back roads of America. Today, we return to Virginia to spend a week off the road, but first there is someone who has been dying to speak to you!!!


Hello everyone! For those of you who may not know me, let me take the opportunity to introduce myself! My name is Rosie! I am a 2014 converted Dodge Ram Promaster Cargo Van, and was entrusted by Nate and Lori to be their home and transportation on their year long cross country journey. You can learn more about me by clicking here. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, and I look forward to learning more about each of you in the comments section. Now, I will share with you a little more about me! My turn-ons are long drives on lonely dirt roads, a long hot steamy scrub down in a car wash and sipping on fine high octane Sinclair gasoline in the presence of good company really revs my engine! Rum! Rum! My turn offs are: low top vans; because I am a big sexy girl, Mercedes Sprinter vans; because they are just too high maintenance, and above all else I HATE Costo gas, which is always the cheapest fuel available. Seriously, you don’t take a lady to McDonalds on a first date! Anywho, I am single and ready to mingle. But remember fella’s;

If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it

If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it

Don't be mad once you see that he want it

If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

I am so sorry!!! I get so easily distracted, and how I do love to sing. Especially songs by Beyonce! Anywho! Where was I? Oh yes! I asked Lori and Nate if I could share a few thoughts with everyone, because today is a very special day. Today is Rosie Appreciation Day!!! YEAHHHHH!!!! Boy, am I looking forward to it!!! I have driven Nate and Lori wherever the road before us has led through vast deserts, deep valleys, down the West Coast, and up the East Coast. I have even driven up:

Purple mountains majesty

Above the fruited plains

America America God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea

There I go again singing! I am so sorry, but that song always gets me! Sniffle Sniffle! Actually, the last time I wrote a post on the blog was when I drove up to Pike's Peaks in Colorodo where America the Beautiful was written, which you can read more about by clicking here. Actually, it was in that post I mentioned I was in desperate need of a bath. Between the bug splatter on my windshield, and the mud caked on my undercarriage, I was the laughing stock of the Walmart parking lot, and no other vehicle wanted to park anywhere near me! How embarrassing! I can’t say I blame them! Would you want to sit next to someone who hadn’t bathed in 10 months!!! I didn’t think so! Long at last, I am finally going to get a long hot soapy scrub down, and I am beyond excited!!! Don’t forget to wash behind my ears (sideview mirrors)! Please see the pictures below.

Ahhh! That felt so luxurious! Long at last, I am finally squeaky clean!!! Speaking of squeaky, I have reliably driven Nate and Lori 45,000 miles across the country, and I am overdue for a check up with the mechanic. My front joints are creaking, my rear brakes are squeaking, and I have a few bulbs burnt out! The biggest problem is finding a mechanic who can fit a girl of my size in their garage, and once I am inside, most mechanics don’t have what it takes to get me fixed. One of the reasons I see the mechanic so infrequently is because Lori is very particular about who she allows to work on me. She literally spends hours on the phone vetting potential mechanics to see if they are worthy to repair her Rosie! Awww I feel so loved! Anywho, Lori found a family run Meineike in Fredericksburg, VA with great reviews, awesome customer service, high bay garages, skilled mechanics, and open availability. As it turns out, I needed rear brakes and rotors, transmission mounts, headlights and high beams, and we had to wait a couple of days for a few of the parts to arrive. Nonetheless, I feel as good as new! Thank you Lori and Nate! We should make every day a Rosie Appreciation Day!!!


After departing Meineike, we drove across town to a place I have long been looking forward to visiting! Today, I was going to see my Aunt Rachel, Uncle Frank and my four cousins; Joey 28, Gina 25, Wilson 19, and Aryanna 11! My Aunt Rachel is my mother’s younger sister, and I have always felt a special connection with her. After graduating high school, my Aunt moved out of my former home state of Connecticut to attend college. Life has taken my Aunt and her family across the US, and over the years I lost track of where she lived. When Rosie rolled through Washington State a few months ago, I stopped in Seattle to spend a few days visiting with my Grandma, which you can read more about by clicking here. My Grandma shared my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins currently live in Fredericksburg, VA provided my Aunts email, and suggested I reach out to them. I haven’t seen My Aunt and Uncle in over 10 years, and I have never met my cousins Wilson, and Aryanna. I have been waiting for this day for over 6 months, and am very excited to see everyone over the next four days!