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North Carolina

North Carolina: Tar Heel State

CAPITAL: Raleigh
JOINED UNION: November 21, 1789
STATE BIRD: Cardinal
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Taken from "Carolus," the Latin word for Charles and named after England's King Charles I
1992 POPULATION: 6,842,691
LAND AREA: 48,718 square miles
ECONOMY: Tobacco, textiles, furniture, commercial fishing, tourism
HISTORY: Human habitation in North Carolina has been found dating back to 8,000 BC. Before white settlers, the area was home to Indian tribes like the Iroquois. In 1585 and 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh established two colonies on Roanoke Island; of these one vanished and the other returned to England. In 1660, permanent settlers arrived from Virginia. North Carolina fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War. North Carolina is known for being the place where man first took flight; on December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers flew their plane for 12 seconds at Kitty Hawk.

Wright Brothers: Orville Learns to Fly December 17, 1903


When they were children, Wilbur and Orville Wright's father gave them a little flying toy. The toy didn't last long in the Wright brothers' hands, but it did leave them with a lasting fascination with flying The brothers worked in their bicycle shop and experimented extensively with gliders at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where there is almost always wind. Then they designed a light-weight engine and mounted it on an updated model of one their gliders.

On Dec. 17, 1903, among the dunes of Kitty Hawk, Wilbur and Orville Wright launched the first engine-powered airplane into a 27-mile-an-hour wind. Orville, who was at the controls, flew just 120 feet for 12 seconds. Nevertheless, they were ecstatic. Then Wilbur took his turn, flying the plane 195 feet.

They took three successful flights that day, and began a new era.

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