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A Picture of the Control Tower,
is wider than the distance of the
First Flight by the Wright Brothers.

The Control Tower on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk
marks the distance of the Wright Brothers first flight
of the Wright Flyer.


Photo by C. Jeff Dyrek

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Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk Models

Take a close look at the Control Tower. 

It doesn't look very big here but it's bigger than it looks. At the base of the tower there are two bronze plaques talking about the first flight of the Wright Brothers airplane at Kitty Hawk North Carolina in 1903, thus giving this great ship its name the USS Kitty Hawk, CV-63. One plaque is mounted at the lower Kitty Hawk 1/24 Model, Super beautiful Museum Quality Constructionright portion of the large number, 63, that you can see here, which is the back of the port side of the tower. The other plaque is mounted on the front of the port side of the tower. Port means left, and starboard means right. At the bottom of the plaque is an arrow and an inscription saying, "Follow this arrow until you see another plaque, this is the distance of the first airplane flight ever recorded." The distance is 120 feet.

The length of this tower is about 140 feet. To put this in perspective, the Wright Brothers first flight was less than the distance from the front of the tower to the back of the tower. Another view of this is distance is the length of the catapults which launch the jets off of this carrier. The catapults are about 250 feet long. So, if you think about it, the Wright Brothers first flight was less than half of the distance that it takes to launch a jet fighter.

The control tower is also called a conning tower or the Island. These plaques are no longer on the ship, however.

Hey Jeff, 

I'm a 23 year od college student from Pa.  I have been following the US Military , particularly the US Navy and Marine Corps since then.  Mostly I follow the aviation components. Funny thing, my new sister in-law served on the Kitty Hawk until 2000.  I forget when she got aboard.  She was a grease monkey.  My brother is a bubble head on boomers.   As to the radars , they were the same on all the latest frigates, Knox, Brook, Garcias all had the SPS-55 and SPS-40 radars.  It wasn't until the Perry Class ships came along did they get the SPS-49.  Now I think the only US surface ships carrying the SPS-40s (air search) are the Spruance Class DD's (Spru Cans) and a few of the amphibious support ships. The CG/CV/CVN's usually had the black square SPS-48 for air search, plus the SPS-37.  The Kitty Hawk carried that one over the island.  Now all the CG's,DD,DDGs and CV/Ns carry the SPS-49s like the Perry's carry.  You have a great site and very impressive pictures.  Keep up the good work, 

Ethan Thomas 
Hawk 21 

Dear Ethan, 

Thank you very much. I never knew anything about the radars or the different classes of ships even. All I can say is because of people like you, I learn a whole lot everyday. 

Later in this picture series you will see a bunch of guys playing guitars on the flight deck. That was the party day. We were out to sea for thirty five days straight and the Captain said, OK, I'm tired, we're having a party. So that's what we did.

Well, to make a short story long, one of my friends was recording all of the music. These guys played great. But, when we got below deck and listened to the music, every few seconds there was a big blast of white noise and the music was completely gone. We thought about it and then looked at the big black radar. Every time it rotated and pointed toward us, it blocked out the music on the magnetic tape. 

C. Jeff Dyrek, webmaster

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