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Wright Flight Celebration Starts

A weeklong celebration honoring the 100th anniversary of the first flight by the Wright brothers opened Friday with airplane exhibits and school children looking forward to talking to astronauts aboard the international space station.

Keith Yoerg, a 13-year-old great-great-grandnephew of Wilbur and Orville Wright, joined the visitors to the Wright Brothers National Memorial park Friday and was talking about his own dreams of going into space some day.

"I probably wouldn't be as into it if I wasn't part of the family because I've had so many great opportunities to meet people," he said. "So it's kind of like, kindled my want to become an astronaut."

The usually placid Wright Brothers National Memorial park has undergone a $10 million transformation with two stages for musical acts, nearly 50 temporary tents housing 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and 35 aircraft displays between now and the anniversary on Wednesday.

Organizers expect dozens of plane flyovers and about 200,000 visitors to the park during the anniversary celebration over the next six days.

The celebration will culminate on the morning of Dec. 17 at 10:35 a.m., 100 years to the minute since the Wrights first flew their wood and muslin contraption for 12 seconds over 120 feet of the dunes.

Using a $1.2 million reproduction of 1903 Wright Flyer, a pilot will steer the plane over the same sand hill, which has been stripped of grass applied years ago to stabilize the terrain, in order to make the scene more authentic.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan confirmed Friday that President Bush would speak during anniversary events on Wednesday.

The U.S. Postal Service is not issuing a stamp this weekend. Instead, it issued a special sheet of 10 showing the Wright Flyer last May. Special postmarks and postal souvenirs will be available at both Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk, from which the Wright Brothers sent their telegrams announcing their feat.

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