Wright Brothers Sweet Gum

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Wright Brothers Sweet Gum


Parent tree location: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Distance from MOSI to parent tree: 677 miles


During the years 1900, 1901, and 1902, experimenting with kites, gliders, and a wind tunnel they built to test wing design, the two brothers developed the first effective airplane, and made the first flight of a powered, controlled, heavier-than-air airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903.


In 1905, the Wright brothers built an airplane that could fly for more than half an hour at a time. In 1908 Orville made the world's first flight of over one hour at Fort Myer, Virginia, in a demonstration for the U.S. army, which subsequently made the Wright planes the world's first military airplanes. That same year Wilbur made over 100 flights near Le Mans, France; the longest one, on Dec. 31, a record flight: 2 hours, 19 minutes. This sweetgum is a seedling from a tree at the site of the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk.


Did You Know?

Tampa was the site of the first scheduled airline flight in 1914. The flight was piloted by aviator Tony Jannus and flew from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Jannus continued regular flights across Tampa bay.

Tony Jannus Park, Tampa FL

Early Aviators: Tony Jannus


Learn more about the Wright Brothers and Early Flight

National Park Service: Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, NC

Wilbur Wright Museum, Hagerstown, IN

1903 Wright Flyer, Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.


Air Garden

When the Wright brothers’ first successful craft launched in 1903, they achieved mankind’s dream of taking to the air, leading to the first scheduled commercial flight right here in Tampa in 1914. To honor these pioneering men, this garden features epiphytes - plants that thrive in the air. Plantings include: Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides), Bartram’s Air Plant (Tillandsia bartramii), Bromeliads and other Tillandsias

Click here for more information on plants currently found in the Air Garden. 


Artist's statement:
When asked to participate in this project, I was drawn to the Wright Brother's Sweet Gum tree because the first image that popped into my head was of the blueprint schematics of their planes, which I can relate to in my professional life as a kitchen designer, where I am surrounded by blueprints on a daily basis. I was drawn to the idea of the duality of that rigid, black and white image against the softness of the colors of fall reflected in the sweet gum trees that the Wright Brothers' plane flew past on that first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

About the artist: Kristen Montgomery is a kitchen designer who holds a BA in Art from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, is a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism, an artist and calligrapher, friend of the animals and a favorite Aunt. She lives in Tampa, FL with her two cats.

Kristen Montgomery


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