Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, commemorates the first successful sustained powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine. Wilbur and Orville Wright came here from Dayton, Ohio because of the steady winds. They also valued the privacy this location, remote in 1903, gave them.
Four powered flights were made at the base of the hill by the Wright brothers on December 17, 1903, following three years of gliding experiments from atop this and nearby sand dunes. It is possible to walk along the actual routes of the four flights, with small monuments delineating their starts and finishes. Two wooden sheds, reconstructed from historic photographs, simulate the world's first airplane hangar and the brothers' living quarters.
The tower was designed by Rodgers and Poor, a New York architectural firm; the design was officially selected on February 14, 1930. Prior to the memorial's construction, the War Department selected Captain William H. Kindervater of the Quartermaster Corps to prepare the site for construction and to manage the area landscaping. To secure the sandy foundataion, Captain Kindervater selected bermuda grass to be planted on Kill Devil Hill and the surrounding area. He also ordered a special fertilizer to be spread throughout the area to promote grass and shrubbery growth and decided to build a fence to prevent animal grazing. With a strong foundation in place, the Office of the Quartermaster selected Marine Captain John A. Gilman to preside over the construction project. Construction began in October of 1931 and with a budger of $213,000, the memorial was completed in November of 1932. In the end, 1,200 tons of granite, more than 2,000 tons of gravel, more than 800 tons of sand and almost 400 tons of cement were used to build the structure, along with numerous other materials.