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History of Wright Brothers Day Celebrations:
- 20th Anniversary 1923 DECEMBER 17. The 20th anniversary of the first successful powered heavier-than-air flight at Kitty Hawk by the Wright brothers is observed in impressive ceremonies at Dayton. Orville receives congratulatory messages from President Calvin Coolidge, Secretary of War John W. Weeks, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. A bronze plaque is presented to Orville by Frederick Patterson, head of the National Aeronautic Association. Foreign representatives coming to Dayton to pay homage to Orville include Wing Commander Mario Calderara, air attaché at the Italian embassy and the first officer in the world to fly, Capt. Georges Thenault, French air attaché, and Commander Harold A. Brown, British naval attaché. Also among the guests are Vilhjalmur Stefansson, explorer, and Carl E. Akeley, big game hunter, close friends of Orville. The visiting dignitaries are guests of Orville and Katharine at a luncheon in their home. Later the visitors and Orville and Katharine are dinner guests of Frederick Patterson before the commencement of the evening ceremonies, which are presided over by former Governor of Ohio James M. Cox.
- 25th Anniversary 1928 DECEMBER 17. In anniversary statement Orville says, “In twenty-five years flight has been extended from one minute to more than 65 hours; from one half mile to more than four thousand miles; and from a few feet above the ground to more than one half mile above it . . . The great strides made in aviation in the last two years would indicate that we have not yet even approached the limit of the possibilities.”
- Group pilgrimage from Washington to Kitty Hawk honors Wrights on 25th anniversary. Ceremonies include laying of the cornerstone of the national memorial to the Wrights at the top of Kill Devil Hill and the unveiling by Senator Bingham of a granite monument erected by the National Aeronautic Association on the spot from which the Wrights made their December 1903 flights.
- 35th Anniversary 1938 DECEMBER 17. Public observance of 35th anniversary of the first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., is held at the National Cash Register auditorium in Dayton. Henry Ford is guest of Orville at small dinner party at his home. Other guests are Fred I. Black, Charles F. Kettering, and Col. Edward A. Deeds.
- 1946 DECEMBER 17. President Harry S. Truman sends a congratulatory telegram to Orville “on behalf of your fellow countrymen” on the 43d anniversary of first successful airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C. Dayton friends greet him at his office, and 200 fighter planes fly over Wright Memorial in salute.
- 1949 DECEMBER 17. Commemorative six-cent airmail stamp honoring the Wright brothers is issued by the Post Office at Kitty Hawk, N.C. The Wright 1903 airplane is shown in flight.
- 50th Anniversary 1953 DECEMBER 14–17. Nationwide celebration of 50th anniversary concludes with a four-day observance at Kill Devil Hill, sponsored by the Kill Devil Hills Memorial Society, the National Park Service, Air Force Association, and the North Carolina 50th Anniversary Commission.
- 1957 DECEMBER 17. As part of the 54th anniversary ceremonies of the Wrights’ first flight, Conrad L. Wirth, director of the National Park Service, breaks ground for the beginning of construction of a new visitor center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
- 1963 DECEMBER 17. Reproduction of the Wright original 1903 “Flyer,” a project of the National Capital Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, presented to the Wright National Memorial Museum at Kill Devil Hill.
- 1966 DECEMBER 17. Wreaths are laid at foot of Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk in observance of 63rd anniversary of Wright brothers’ historic 1903 flight. A group of F-102 Delta Dagger aircraft fly over monument in salute.
- 1967 DECEMBER 17. F–102 Dagger aircraft of the 196th Fighter Group, South Carolina National Guard, fly over Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk in observance of 64th anniversary of Wright brothers’ 1903 flights.
- 75th Anniversary 1978 DECEMBER 17.
- 100th Anniversary 2003 DECEMBER 17.
- 120th Anniversary 2023 December 17. The 120th anniversary of the first successful powered heavier-than-air flight at Kitty Hawk
- 125th Anniversary 2028 December 17.