First Flight grounded – Tangled up in turf

In-fighting between a North Carolina state commission and a foundation it created has prompted the National Park Service to give a Wisconsin group oversight of activities marking the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., The News & Observer in Raleigh reported Oct. 22.

The First Flight Centennial Commission, created by state lawmakers six years ago, has spent $2 million in state money, mostly on salaries and other operating expenses.

The First Flight Centennial Foundation, created by the commission, has spent nearly $1.5 million in private funds, including about $225,000 to refurbish the granite monument overlooking the field where the first flight took place.

“Too much discord,” Francis A. Peltier, superintendent of the Outer Banks National Park Service Group, which includes the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills told the newspaper. “The way things were, we couldn’t continue.”

The clash, which included competing logos between the commission and foundation, involved two prominent business leaders – Thad Woodard, the commission’s chairman and president of the N.C. Bankers Association in Raleigh, and Dick Howard, the foundation’s president and chairman of Howard Management Group, a Greesnboro heavy-contruction firm.

A consultant’s study said the foundation should be able to raise at least $15 million. It has raised $1.5 million.

The park service has struck a deal with the Experimental Aircraft Association, a Wisconsin-based international group of aviation enthusiasts, to organize the main event, on Dec. 17, 2003.

For full story, go to The News & Observer.

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