A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wright Brother's Camp and Workshop

One feature of the Wright Brothers Memorial that really struck a chord with me was the recreation of their camp and workshop at Kill Devil Hills.  I neglected to get an overall outside photo of the two buildings while there.  Remember, it was cold, windy and rainy which had put me out of sorts.  I  looked in the book I had bought there to get some additional pictures (black and whites) for you.

This is how the two reconstructed buildings look today (copied from the park's handout), 

pretty much like the originals in this photo from 1903.
The building on the left is their workshop and the right living quarters.

When I saw the kitchen inside my thoughts went immediately to the preserved camps
 of Scott and Shackleton in Antarctica.

The park service went to great effort finding period correct can goods and utensils to display just like in the original photo of 1903.

The brothers slept in two bunks set up in the rafters.

This is the 1902 version of their camp shed where you can see Wilbur cooking in the back on the opposite side of the building.  Wilbur did all the cooking.  
They are working on the assembly of a glider.

Today's version of the 1903 work shed.

This is their first camp in 1900.

 This photo is taken from the hill in October 1903 still conducting glider tests while the powered Flyer was being assembled in camp down below.  
Two months later they would succeed in the first engine powered flight.

When the brothers returned to Kill Devil Hills in 1908 they found the harsh North Carolina weather had left their camp in ruins.  That is the 1902 glider in the shed.  They had already rebuilt their living quarters (to the right) when this photo was taken.

In 1912 Wilbur Wright contracted typhoid fever and died on May 30.  Orville, the younger of the two brothers by 4 years lived into his 77th year passing away on January 30, 1948.  I was conceived one month later.  That is the best I can do to connect myself to these two amazing men.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Wright Flyer Replica

By now I was cold, damp, miserable and sniveling.  I retreated into the museum where it was warm and cozy and full of a lot of people.  But I had timed it just right.  One of the park rangers was giving a 30 minute talk to the crowd gathered around the reproduction of the Wright brother's Flyer.  Now is a good time to view the rest of the exhibits without people around talking and being a general nuisance.  I have a problem trying to read displays with someone standing next to me reading it out loud.  Some people never learned to read in their "quiet voice".  When the talk concluded the hoard invaded the museum and I had the exhibit room with Flyer all to myself.

This is just amazing that the reproduction was made with such detail to accuracy.  Like the bronze sculpture outside, I wondered what this cost to make and how long it took to do so.

Here you can see the little dolly on the monorail for the Flyer to take off from.  It had no wheels plus the soft sand ground would have made it impossible to get up to speed for take-off.

As the sign read, this is a working engine reproduced down to every last detail.  There was no engine available for the brothers that produced the horsepower needed so they designed and made their own.  In the end the horsepower it produced exceeded their needs.  
Pretty cool for a couple of bicycle makers.
Also note the padded U-shaped portion.  The pilot's hips rested there and he'd shift left or right which flexed or warped the wing thus controlling side to side roll.

The two propellers, like the engine, they had to design and build for themselves.

Can you imagine all the tacking needed for the cloth?  
My first thought was how many times I'd smack my fingers with the hammer.

Every one of these specifications was not just a random choice.  Every factor affected each other factor and these results were determined from over a thousand test flights with gliders like the one above.  They also used scaled models in a wind tunnel they created themselves.  

In the gift shop I so wanted to buy a model of the Flyer to put together myself.  Not a plastic Chinese made thing but one with wood, string and cloth.  Nothing of the sort was for sale.  Someone had made one and it hung above the register with a little sign dangling beneath that read: "Display only, made by so and so.  No, we do not have these for sale."  Why have that there teasing the customer?  Obviously they had been asked about it so many times hence the sign. Take a hint and have some model maker create kits and sell them at exorbitant prices to fools like me who in the moment have got all caught up in the Wright Brothers Experience.  I wound up buying a book.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Do Not Enter

Orange Beach, Alabama

Not a pretty fence, just your everyday chain link.  But it must have a story.
At one time this was a nice place to park and look out over Perdido Bay along the Gulf, but not anymore.  Why would Orange Beach fence off just the parking spots and not the entire parking lot?  And just how would one Enter unless they climb the fence, and then for what?  
Fishing was my only guess.

But I didn't let this deter me.  
I parked there anyway, the rebel that I am, and enjoyed the crayfish sandwich I had bought in town.  Very tasty!  They don't have these in California.

Tomorrow we will return to the Wright Brothers Memorial near Kittyhawk, North Carolina.
I have a few more sights to share.

This is linked to Good Fences at Run*A*Round*Ranch

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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

First in Flight

As we were driving along the coastline of South Carolina I noticed the license plate of the car in front of us - North Carolina  First in Flight.  I read a lot of license plates while driving. It was then I thought of going to Kittyhawk North Carolina where the Wright Brothers first flew a self-propelled airplane.

Well the event really took place in the nearby Kill Devil Hills.  Today the National Park Service has established a very well done memorial for this outstanding accomplishment.  In my opinion, what Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved with little known knowledge in the principles of flight at the time and their limited available technology, far outshines what all the people involved did in putting a man on the moon sixty some years later.

These are the hills and it was here in the three years of 1900 -1902 the brothers conducted hundreds of glider flights just in order to learn the mechanics of flight itself and solve the many problems they faced.  They chose this place because of the reliable 16 plus mph winds needed to sustain lift.
The day we were there the winds didn't disappoint and rain was an added bonus.

I only got this picture for the monument was blocking the winds.

The view down to where the Little House on the Highway was parked.  Sinbad is asleep inside.

 Back down on the flat is where the first powered flight took place in 1903.

The plane road along the monorail track then lifted off at where the big boulder marks the spot.
In the distance you can see the various points of flight marked by more granite boulders.

Why did Orville fly the first flight?  Well Wilbur really did for he won the coin toss.  But he lost his chance to be the first in flight when he oversteered with the elevator and the Flyer climbed too steeply, stalled and dove into the sand.  Repairs were made and it was then Orville's turn.

Wilbur was next.  It was so miserable that this bird took shelter from the wind on the boulder.

Then Orville, each time increasing their distance and speed.

Flight number 4, flown by Wilbur is way off in the distance at 852 feet for 59 seconds.  But the Flyer would not fly again.  After the last flight a gust of wind rolled it over and the plane was damaged beyond an easy repair.  No, I didn't walk down there to boulder number 4.  Any other day I would have but not that day.  I was cold and had had enough.

Tomorrow, a  pretty neat sculpture commemorating the brother's achievement.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Biggest Little Village Mural

Sutherland, Nebraska (pop. apx. 1200)

A fun little mural in a small town that calls itself "The Biggest Little Village in Nebraska".
The red,white and blue stripe represents the Lincoln Highway.
They are proud of their reservoir for some reason so it made it onto the mural.
The boat anchor, I have no idea. 

The Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail both pass by near Sutherland.
The Pony Express route went through Sutherland as well.
That is why the horse rider and the wagon.
The Union Pacific Railroad still uses the tracks behind the building.

Today just the Lincoln Highway sees any action anymore, and not very much of that except for the locals and travelers like Sinbad and myself who would rather drive it than Interstate 80 a few miles to the south.  The little building once was a service station for Frontier Gas.  Nope, I never heard of Frontier Gas either until seeing this mural and the sign standing tall nearby.  
But the gas evidently left your car "Rarin' to Go!"

This is linked to 

National Motorcycle Museum

Anamosa, Iowa

In trying to keep in the theme for Memorial Day weekend I went through all the pictures I took during our recent road trip and this is the best I could come up with, Evel Knievel's 1972 XR750 Harley Davidson motorcycle painted up in red, white and blue stars and stripes.  Hard to believe the man did what he did on a motorcycle with 1970's technology.  One can only imagine the jumping records he would have set with the motorcycles of today.  Or better still, he could have done all that he did back then with far less injuries and broken bones.

The motorcycle museum was a highlight of this trip for me but I'll not bore my readers with all the vintage motorcycle photos I came home with.  Well maybe I'll sneak one or two in every once in awhile when you least expect it.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

In the United States it is our Memorial Day Weekend in remembrance to all the men and women who died while serving in our armed forces.


I poop on your guns.

Photo taken in Shelton, Nebraska

Friday, May 23, 2014

Crooked River, Georgia

This is the placed where I whined about the mosquitoes in the post I made while on the road which you can revisit here.  I wasn't able to upload pictures at the time so this is where all the mosquitoes live.

The ruins of the old sugar cane mill.  I like the Spanish moss hanging in the trees.  
Georgia has a lot of that.  A lot of mosquitoes too.  At least along Crooked River.

The interesting part of the mill to me was the materials used in construction of the walls - shells.
Remember, I am giving blood at the time for these pictures.

There were oyster shells all around the area, even at the campground 
so I assume that is what is in the walls.

As I wrote in that post, honestly, I didn't get through the first sentence of this sign before I took off running for the sugar mill.  It wasn't until making this post that I read the entire sign, which really isn't all that interesting.  Definitely not worth getting mosquito bit for.

Here I am back inside the sanctuary of the Little House on the Highway taking a final picture through the window of the entire scene showing the distance to the ruins I had to run to and back from.
There was no outrunning the little buggers.  I got one itchy bite for every picture I took.

As I drove away all I could think of was living and working in the sugar cane fields and mill with mosquitoes constantly at you every second.  Re-reading my post from before I see I ended it thinking of the poor slaves working the rice fields with mosquitoes all around.  Yeah, I think a lot when I drive.