2003 First Flight Centennial Gold 10


Quick Coinage Facts

Years Minted: 2003
Mints: West Point
Composition: 0.900 gold 0.100 copper,
Diameter: 26.92 mm (1.06")
Weight: 16.718 grams (0.4839 oz. actual gold weight)
Total Mintage: 10,009 (business), 21,676 (proof)
Edge: reeded
Authority: Public Law 105-124 of Dec 1, 1997


The year 2003 marked the 100th anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright's historic flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina that led to the creation of an entire new industry, new dimensions to military tactics, and public transportation infrastructure.

Designed by Donna Weaver, The obverse features the busts of Orville & Wilbur Wright. To the right of the bust design are the dates 1903 & 2003 while to the left are the words "IN GOD WE TRUST". Above the bust design is the word "LIBERTY" while below the design are the words "ORVILLE & WILBUR WRIGHT" and "FIRST FLIGHT CENTENNIAL.

The reverse features the Wright Brother's plane, the 1903 Wright Flyer, in flight along side with a soaring eagle. Above the design are the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". Just to the right of the eagle are the words "E PLURIBUS UNUM". Below the design are the words "TEN DOLLAR". Just to the right of the Wright Flyer is the Mintmark "W" for West Point.

1903 Wright Flyer

The 1903 Wright Flyer made four flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, the best covering 852 feet in 59 seconds. It was the first heavier-than-air, powered aircraft to make a sustained, controlled flight with a pilot aboard.

The Wrights used their proven canard biplane configuration which was rooted in their initial 1899 kite design. Key to the Flyer's success was its three-axis control system, which featured wing-warping for lateral balance, a moveable rudder, and an elevator for pitch control.

Prior to 1903, the theory of flight was conceivable but the problem was the lack of enough power to generate lift. This changed with the introduction of the combustion engine as Orville & Wilbur discovered the possibility of the new power source to use with their initial plane the 1903 Wright Flyer.

Another struggle was the use of a propeller. Initially, the brothers believed they could use maritime technology but their research soon discovered there was no established formulas for propellers. The two discussed and at times argued over the theory of a propeller for flight. In the end, the two agreed that an aeronautical propeller is essentially a wing rotating on a vertical plane.

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