A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Moment Captured in Bronze

This is a life-sized sculpture done in bronze and stainless steel by artist Stephen H. Smith.  It was dedicated on the centennial of the December 17, 1903 flight.  It is based upon a photo taken at that moment by John Daniels of the Kill Devil Hills Life Saving Station. 

I purposely took this picture with the two women in it for scale, 
and show how miserable of a day it was.
That is Wilbur running alongside.

Photographer John Daniels had never operated a camera before 
and was instructed by Wilbur when to snap the shutter.

Mr. Daniels point of view.

Besides Daniels four other local residents witnessed the flight.  Two were from the Life Saving Station and the other two were a man and young boy.  I missed getting the young boy.  He was standing at the end of the monorail to the right.

After the fourth flight that day the brothers were so confident that they decided after lunch they would fly the plane the four miles up to the Kitty Hawk Weather station where the telegraph office was.

Why not?  "We might as well use the rest of the three pints of gasoline in the tank."

It was then that sudden gust of wind flipped the Flyer over and over.  Mr.Daniels, the photographer, tried to hold the machine but was unable to secure it and was badly bruised in his attempt.  
He became the first airplane casualty.  

I thought this was an impressive piece of artwork.  It is not set up where the actual flight took place.
Orville Wright at the controls.

They did send their telegram back home to their father:  Success four flights thrusday morning against twenty one mile wind from level with engine power alone average speed through air thirty one miles longest 57 seconds inform Press home before Christmas  Orville Wright. 
Interesting that the telegram states 2 seconds less than all the historical data.

Another interesting point is that this is the photo John Daniels took which doesn't look anything like the sculpture.  I suppose the artist wanted it to look more dramatic.


  1. Yah what to say. Its an incredible piece of real life art. I like especially the way the propellors seems to move through the air by the use of translucent material. Also the placing of the witnesses and the photographer is just like a photo from the real thing in 3D. And then to think that it all started with just this material. Unbelievable. Thanks for showing.

  2. An amazing amount of work gone into this many faceted sculpture John.. I think it does look very much the same as the photo of the original.. Goodness talk about telling the whole story.. I would love to see this one. Excellent idea to catch the ladies for perspective.. What did Sinbad think of it all :)

  3. A very nice post.They made a lot of work of the place to make it attractive for the public. I like all those sculptures just standing in the field to make the scene so real. I can hear them shouting.

  4. WOW! Life size is amazing. I would enjoy walking around and under it to get a feeling for what that famous day was like.

    The sculpture looks very well made and I bet it cost a fortune! I hope it is being watched carefully as bronze sculptures sometimes disappear - thieves melt bronze down and sell it for scrap.

  5. a little creative license, i suppose. really neat sculptures!

  6. That is a wonderful memorial to the day!

  7. Very interesting John, I like how you composed photo #4. ;-)

  8. I like the statue of the photographer.

  9. I wonder how long it took to build it--the replica I mean. It is really something...

  10. I learned a bunch I did not know. So, thanks for the informative post.
    Peace :)


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