Wind & Wings Features aviation history, flight simulators, DC-3 restoration tours, and more

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

March 23 event to feature stories of the Wright Brothers alongside the latest flight tracking technology

SPENCER — Wind & Wings: The Science of Flight is the N.C. Transportation Museum’s largest aviation-themed offering. This high-flying event takes place Friday, March 22, with more than 1000 school students and home school children scheduled to attend. The event also takes place Saturday, March 23 for the general public. Both days, activities will be available across the museum’s 60-acre site.
Wind & Wings will span the entire history of aviation, from the Wright Brothers invention of powered flight to modern day software that can track airplanes in real time. There will be helicopter fly-ins, remote controlled aircraft, interactive kite building and paper rocket activities, speakers with a focus on aviation careers and tours of the museum’s DC-3 airplane renovation.
The event is sponsored by American Airlines, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, architects Talbert, Bright and Ellington, and the First Flight Foundation.

Helicopter fly-ins are scheduled from several different groups. Baptist Hospital is scheduled to arrive Friday. Novant Health Care’s purple helicopter is scheduled to be on hand both Friday and Saturday. The NC Highway Patrol’s helicopter is scheduled for a Saturday-only fly in.

Wright Brothers expert Darrell Collins will appear both days. Collins spent 32 years with the National Parks Service, serving as historian at the Wright Brothers’ Memorial at Kitty Hawk for most of that time. Collins’ interpretation of the Wright Brothers’ first flight brings that history to life, telling the story of two bicycle shop owners from Ohio who made history on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Amelia Earhart, famed female aviator, will appear through the first-person interpretation of Leslie Goddard. Earhart was the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane and the first woman to pilot herself across the Atlantic by plane.

Tours of the museum’s major aviation restoration, the Piedmont Airlines DC-3 will be offered, with first hand updates from aviation volunteers helping to restore that airplane for display.

Analytics innovators SAS will show how airplanes flying overhead can be tracked in real time with a combination of simple tools and the company’s software. Located just inside the Back Shop, visitors will be able to track those airplanes themselves and see this technology firsthand.

Try your hand at virtual piloting via flight simulators

Kids’ activities will include kite making, paper rockets, a Wii flight simulator, and interactive wind tunnels to show the forces of flight. Kids will also be given a Flight Plan Map upon arrival, which will encourage them to visit each station listed to receive a surprise gift.

Cabarrus RC Flyers and others will be making indoor flights inside the museum’s 90,000 square foot Back Shop. Visitors should keep their eyes and ears open for the buzzing and whirring of these small-scale aviation machines.

Virtual piloting via flight simulators from The Wright Stuff Simulation & Virtual Reality Center will be available for those wishing to try their hand at piloting an airplane.

Science of flight programs will be offered by the Carolinas Historic Aviation Commission and the Museum, teaching how heavier than air machines are able to stay aloft.

Unmanned drones from the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division will, weather permitting, fly across the site.

A full-size hot air balloon will be inflated and tethered from 9 to 11 a.m., weather permitting, thanks to Phil Macnutt.

History of the Potomac Pacemaker, including its origin as a wartime C-53 in 1942, its acquisition by Western Airlines and Piedmont Airlines, and the plane’s retirement, including a special tour of the airplane by aviation volunteer Savannah Ford.

Wind & Wings is offered at the museum’s regular admission price of $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and military, and $4 for children 3-12. Admission plus the on-site train ride is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and military, and $8 for children 3-12. Two and under are free.
Advance tickets are available at

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