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.
The obverse was designed by T. James Ferrell and features the busts of Orville & Wilbur Wright. To the left & right of the bust design are the dates 1903 & 2003. Above the bust design are the words "LIBERTY" and "IN GOD WE TRUST". Located on the bottom shoulder on the right side of the bust design are the designer's initials "TJF".
The reverse was designed by Norman E. Nemeth and features the Wright Brother's plane, the 1903 Wright Flyer, flying over Kitthawk Beach. Above the design are the words "ONE DOLLAR". Below the design are the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and "E PLURIBUS UNUM". Located just below the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" are the designer's initials "NEN". Directly below the wing of the Flyer on the right side is the mint mark "P" for Philadelphia.
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.
General Market Notes
Though the coinage act Public Law-105-124 allotted for a maximum mintage of 500,000 a total of only 243,773 coins were minted with proofs making up the bulk at over 190,000.
Excluding the proof mintage, the business strikes (often referred to as mint state or uncirculated coins) represents one of the smallest mintage totals in respect to other modern dollar commemorative programs making it a potential sleeper.