Wilbur and Orville Wright reenactors kicked off ceremonies at this morning's groundbreaking for the new Pilot Facility at First Flight Airport, adjacent to the National Park Service First Flight national monument near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The AOPA-sponsored 900-square-foot facility will offer shelter, phones, weather information, and restrooms for GA pilots using the airport.
AOPA President Phil Boyer, at groundbreaking ceremonies for the new AOPA-sponsored Pilot Facility at First Flight Airport, told the 90+ assembled dignitaries that the AOPA-funded facility will be the only permanent structure built as part of the Centennial of Flight festivities that will continue to serve GA pilots both for the ceremonies and in the years to come. Currently, only portable toilets, with no flight planning facilities, exist at the strip.
Using what one National Park Service observer called "the biggest shovel I've ever seen," AOPA President Phil Boyer broke ground Monday for the new Pilot Center, to be built at the First Flight airstrip. The pilot center, which will include shelter, rest rooms, phones, and weather briefing equipment, will be the only Centennial of Flight structure to remain after the year-long celebration concludes in December 2003.
AOPA President Phil Boyer told the 90+ participants in the AOPA Pilot Facility groundbreaking ceremony on Monday that the new structure, sponsored by AOPA members, would be a fitting tribute to the Wright brothers' legacy. "Visiting the birthplace of powered flight is a rite of passage for many pilots," he said. "It will help provide for the safety and convenience of the thousands of pilots who visit First Flight each year."
AOPA, on behalf of its membership, is donating the funds for construction of an all-new Pilot Facility at the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. In coordination with the National Park Service and First Flight Centennial Foundation, the Pilot Facility will be the only permanent structure built at the historic site to remain following the 2003 100th Anniversary of Powered Flight celebrations. The schedule calls for the structure to be completed and dedicated for the 99th anniversary and centennial year kick-off, December 17, 2002.
"Sponsorship of the permanent Pilot Facility is a very appropriate way for AOPA members to honor the Wright brothers' legacy and the generations of pilots who have followed them in flight," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Visiting the birthplace of powered flight is a right of passage for many pilots. AOPA is proud to sponsor this Pilot Facility for the safety and convenience of the thousands of pilots who visit First Flight each year."
The Pilot Facility will include a dedicated pilot briefing room complete with telephones, wall-mounted navigation charts, workplace for flight planning, computerized weather, and flight planning equipment. The 900-square-foot facility, located adjacent to the 3,000-foot First Flight Airfield, also will provide space for an air tour concession and rest rooms. The exterior of the building will also feature an AOPA recognition plaque welcoming pilots to the Wright Brothers National Memorial Pilot Facility.
"I encourage AOPA members to visit this historic place to use their new Pilot Facility during the centennial year," Boyer said. In addition to pilots, more than 1.5 million people are expected to visit the national memorial in 2003.
While the new Pilot Facility will be the focal point of AOPA's 100th anniversary recognition, AOPA will also provide an inclusive centennial section and calendar on its Web site, exclusive centennial editorial coverage in AOPA Pilot magazine, and AOPA's ongoing Centennial of Flight Sweepstakes, which gives winning members the chance to experience monthly flights in a Waco biplane and the ultimate prize of winning a rebuilt 1940 Waco three-seater biplane.
With more than 385,000 members, AOPA is the world's largest civil aviation organization, representing the interests of all general aviation pilots and owners. Recognition of the Wright brothers' achievement complements the 63-year history of the organization. Some two thirds of all pilots in the United States are members of AOPA.