Located in Kitty Hawk on the outer banks of North Carolina, the First Flight Centennial Foundation and the National Parks Service designed and built The Wright Brothers National Memorial to celebrate Wilbur and Orville Wright’s historical flight more than 100 years ago.
The memorial, which includes an 8,000 square foot exhibition hall and an 11,000 square foot auditorium with seating for 1,000 people, features a hanger door at one end that allows vintage aircraft to be brought into the hall for display. Energy-efficient lighting and power is provided throughout, including special track lighting to illuminate exhibits.
Fire and security systems are also included in the high-strength, aluminum-framed structure, which is secured to a concrete floor and foundation system. Because the aluminum substructure has a low strength-to-weight ratio, it is much cheaper and easier to deliver and install than most building options. Because aluminum’s strength increases with age, it does not need much maintenance.
The Sprung structures are also designed and engineered to meet significant hurricane-force winds. Shortly after the Sprung structures were erected, Hurricane Isabel passed directly through the area. The Sprung tensioned fabric structures survived intact while conventional construction in the area sustained significant damage.
The First Flight Centennial Pavilion at Wright Brothers National Memorial remains an important venue for aviation-related exhibits, meetings, concerts, and special events during the centennial year and beyond.