First In Flight


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FIRST IN FLIGHT economy. Over $140 million has been invested in its development. Its center- piece, the 11,500-foot runway remains a key part of marketing efforts. Other tenants include Kinston-based Henley Aviation LLC, Cincinnati-based Delta Private Jets Inc., a subsidiary of Atlanta- based Delta Air Lines Inc., and Maiden- based Mountain Air Cargo Inc. The state has 74 publicly owned and Honda Aircraft Co. is headquartered at the Piedmont Triad International Airport. Global TransPark are examples of how the aviation and aero- space industry is thriving here. The TransPark was envisioned in 1990 as a manufacturing and logistics hub that would invigorate eastern North Carolina's nearly 300 privately owned airports, with nine having regularly scheduled airline service and four with flights to foreign countries. More than 7,000 registered aircraft and 15,000 licensed pilots use these airports, many of which provide other benefits to the economy. For example, more than 50 companies operate from Piedmont Triad Interna- tional Airport, which employs an estimated 4,500 and injects about $1 billion into the local economy each year. The Federal Express Mid-Atlantic Hub, TIMCO Aviation Services Inc. and Honda Aircraft Co. are headquartered there. The Charlotte region benefits from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, which employs about NORTH CAROLINA'S STRONG AVIATION ROOTS On May 14, 1908, the world's fi rst Scratch North Carolina and just under its skin is aviation history spread throughout the state like a network of muscle and bone. It began with Orville Wright's industry-establish- ing fl ight at Kitty Hawk on Dec. 17, 1903. At about 10:35 a.m., the Wright Flyer rolled along its launch rail, was embraced by the air and fl ew 120 feet in 12 seconds. John T. Daniels, a member of the lifesaving service from Manteo, took the iconic photo of Orville's brother Wilbur standing next to the craft. The brothers made three more fl ights that day, with the fi nal lasting 59 seconds and covering 852 feet. But North Carolina's aviation history did not begin on that windy and winter day. In 1873, James Henry Gatling built the fi rst documented airplane in the U.S., just outside Murfreesboro. In 1907, Luther Paul of Davis was the fi rst person in the world to achieve fl ight with a helicopter when his craft, the Bumble Bee, lifted several feet into the air. It was powered by four motorcycle engines. B USI N E SS N O R TH passenger fl ight occurred in a Wright plane at Kitty Hawk when Wilbur fl ew Charles Furnas. W. F. Johnson's electric-powered airplane design took fi rst place at the Central Carolina Fair in 1910. In 1913, Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick of Henderson became the fi rst woman to "hit the silk" by parachuting from an airplane. In 1924, Viola Gentry, a longtime friend of Amelia Earhart, was the fi rst female Tar Heel to earn a pilot's license. In 1928, she set the woman's non- refueling fl ight record. Blimp manufacturing and servicing came to Elizabeth City in the 1940s when the military built a hanger that housed and supported the lighter-than- C AR O L I N A air vehicles. The U.S. Naval Air Station in Weeksville was commissioned in 1942. Navy "K" airships, launched from its hangars, could spot German U-boats along the Outer Banks. The Naval station was decommis- sioned in 1957. Wilbur Wright stands next to the Wright Flyer on Dec. 17, 1903. HONDA AIRCRAFT CO.

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