In 2001, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) decided to organize a historical celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ famous first flight.
The concept was to create a multi-day festival, known as First Flight Centennial Celebration that would provide guests a one-of-a-kind experience, generate national media attention, play host to dignitaries and pay homage to the occasion.
Planning started in 2001, and the six-day celebration took place Dec. 12 - 17, 2003.
Held at the 450-acre Wright Brothers National Memorial, 115,000 spectators attended and enjoyed aviation exhibits, musical entertainment and daily air shows.
Numerous dignitaries took part in the ceremony including President George W. Bush, actor John Travolta, astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, and aviation expert Chuck Yeager. National television outlets including “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show” covered the event.
JHE was responsible for production and coordination of the event; engaging with various departments within the National Park Service; dignitary logistics including secret service; securing entertainment like Michelle Branch, the Beach Boys and The Temptations; and managing the run of show. JHE also coordinated military and private flyovers for the festival.