NOAA 2004-R478
Contact: Glenda Powell

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Ceremony to Honor Significant Historic Events in Aviation and Navigation

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will honor the contributions of Wright Brothers, and the recovery and restoration of the Bodie Island, N.C. baseline distance measurement of 1848 (the precise land survey reference line) in a special ceremony this Friday. NOAA’s National Ocean Service’s National Geodetic Survey will dedicate commemorative monuments honoring both historic events. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The ceremony will take place on September 17, at 2 p.m. at the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. At the conclusion of the ceremony, volunteers from the North Carolina Society of Surveyors will conduct tours of the Bodie Island Baseline from the trailhead at the tourist center on Bodie Island.

The markers will become part of the nation’s spatial reference system by which all longitude and latitude navigational points are based. NGS has been working in partnership with the National Park Service, North Carolina Geodetic Survey, North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Society of Surveyors.

“I think it is fitting that we honor both the Wright Brothers and the early surveyors who laid down the Bodie Island survey points with these ceremonies. Both played significant roles in the navigational history of the country,” stated Charlie Challstrom, director of the Office of National Geodetic Survey and who will speak Friday.

The first monument, set at the Wright Brothers Memorial, in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. will commemorate the centennial of man-powered flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright on December 17, 1903. This historic event gave birth to the airline industry that in turn has brought all the points of the globe into easy access for the average citizen and is a crucial part of the nation’s economy and defense today.

NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey administers the Aeronautical Survey Program that provides highly accurate position, height, and orientation information needed for safe air navigation. NGS has been performing aeronautical surveys since the 1920s. These surveys provide critical information about airport features and about obstructions and aids to navigation. The Federal Aviation Administration uses this information to establish airport approach and departure procedures, determine maximum takeoff weights, update aeronautical publications, and for airport planning and construction studies.

Another air travel safety program administered by NOAA’s geodetic experts is Safe Flight 21. This pilot program between NOAA and the FAA will create Geographic Information System data layers for 60 airports. The data will provide an airport layout diagram to pilots, air traffic controllers, apron controllers, surface vehicle operators, construction/maintenance crews, emergency/security personnel, commercial and cargo airline operations personnel, and general and business aviation operations personnel information. Knowing the multi-layered location and orientation of runways, taxiways, stands and more helps develop standardized airport mapping databases and promotes safe, efficient surface movements.

The second monument, located approximately 10 miles south of the Wright Brothers monument at the north end of Bodie Island in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, commemorates the recovery and restoration of the Bodie Island Baseline. The United States Coast Survey, a predecessor to NGS, which was established by President Thomas Jefferson after the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery journey across the country, originally surveyed this baseline measurement in 1848.

The baseline measurement, 6.7367 miles long, extending north to south along Bodie Island was an especially formidable challenge to measure in 1848 without the use of the electronic distance measuring devices available to modern day surveyors. Still, surveyors managed to measure the baseline with an accuracy of better than two inches. The survey formed the foundation for the development of coastal navigation charts that play a vital role in the safe navigation and the economic growth and development of the United States. The new marker joins a series of seven other markers on the Outer Banks, including two set by the United States Coast Survey in that 1848 survey that are among the oldest surviving geodetic survey monuments in the United States.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service, which includes NGS, balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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