Press Release

NASA Helps Celebrate 100 Years of Soaring

By SpaceRef Editor
October 18, 2011
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NASA Helps Celebrate 100 Years of Soaring

HAMPTON, Va. – Humans have tried to soar like birds since ancient times, but it’s only in the last 100 years that they’ve had widespread success.

NASA’s Langley Research Center has partnered with the First Flight Foundation and other organizations to celebrate Soaring 100 – the centennial of Orville Wright’s historic, world record glider flight of Oct. 24, 1911. His nine minutes and 45 second flight started the sport and science of modern soaring.

The Oct. 21-24 event will be at two locations on North Carolina’s Outer Banks – the Wright Brothers National Memorial and Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

NASA astronaut Susan Kilrain is scheduled to be part of opening ceremonies on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. She also will make a presentation, “Space Shuttle – World’s Most Complex Glider” that afternoon in the pavilion. Kilrain is a veteran of two space shuttle flights in 1997, including serving as the pilot for STS-94.

NASA will have two separate exhibits at Soaring 100. NASA Langley technicians will showcase wind tunnel models at the permanent NASA Langley exhibit in one of the Wright Brothers Memorial pavilions. Also on display will be a moon rock suspended in a clear protective case.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s “Driven to Explore” mobile, multi-media exhibit will be at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. It will give visitors the opportunity to not only look at, but also feel a real three billion year old moon rock, one of only eight lunar samples in the world the public can touch. Both locations will also offer free “postcards from space,” the chance for participants to have their picture taken and superimposed in an astronaut suit on another planet.

“NASA is excited to be a part of Soaring 100, ” said Gail Langevin, NASA Soaring 100 lead. “That’s especially true for those of us at NASA Langley in nearby Virginia, since we’ve studied the science of aeronautics and soaring since we were established in 1917.”

NASA Langley was where Francis Rogallo, the “father of hang gliding,” worked as an aeronautical engineer while pursuing his dream of creating a vehicle to make flight affordable and available to everyone. He tested some of his Rogallo Wing configurations in NASA Langley wind tunnels. The Rogallo Wing has made many sports, including hang gliding, paragliding, sport parachuting, stunt kite flying and kite boarding, possible.

NASA Langley also has connections with that other famous glider, Orville Wright, who was one of the fathers of powered flight. Wright had an office at Langley, when he was part of NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

One of NASA Langley’s wind tunnels also tested a life-size reproduction of the Wright Brothers 1901 glider in 2001 as part of the Wright Experience’s efforts to reverse engineer how the Wrights achieved the first powered flight in 1903.

For more information about Soaring 100, go to:

For more information about NASA’s Langley Research Center, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.