October 24, 1911
Wright Brothers experiment with Gliders
Orville Wright set a world soaring record of nine minutes and 45 seconds of unpowered flight on the Outer Banks on this day in 1911. Famous for the first powered flight in a heavier-than-air craft with his brother Wilbur in 1903, Orville Wright returned to Kitty Hawk after nearly eight years to conduct more experiments with flight. This time he was accompanied by one of his other brothers, Lorin; his nephew, Horace; and a friend who also served as the pilot during the experiments. The 1911 attempts were different from the more famous 1903 ones in that they were with a non-powered glider. Since the Wrights had already shown that powered flight was possible, the tests were more focused on safety and were designed to try out new equipment; the new equipment ultimately had to stay under wraps because newspaper reporters came out to watch the experiments every day they were conducted. Between October 16 and 26, Wright made nearly 100 glides. Most of them were made into winds 35 miles per hour or faster. The record-breaking, nearly 10-minute glide was into 50 mile-per-hour winds and did not reach the 120-foot distance that the powered flight had made earlier. The record would stand internationally until 1921.
October 26, 1993
The Carolina Panthers become the NFL’s 29th franchise
On this day, NFL owners chose the site of the 29th NFL franchise, and the Carolina Panthers were born. Before long, a stadium for the Panthers was under construction in Charlotte.
North Carolina has a rich football history, with greats such as Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice of Carolina, Elvin Bethea of North Carolina A&T, Roman Gabriel of N.C. State, Fred Crawford of Duke and Jim Duncan of Wake Forest University. Perhaps the best known monologue about the sport was recorded by actor and comedian Andy Griffith. His “What It Was, Was Football,” was recorded by the Colonial Label in Raleigh, N.C., in 1953.North Carolina’s rich sports history is showcased at the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, located on the third floor of the North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh. The Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in 1963, celebrates North Carolina’s contributions to the world of sports through exhibits and educational displays, audio, video, and interactive biographies, plus Richard Petty’s stock car, Meadowlark Lemon’s basketball uniform and other artifacts. More than 250 men and women have been honored by induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
October 29, 1929
Black Tuesday stock market crash
The stock market crashed earning the day the epithet “Black Tuesday.” It was the beginning of the Great Depression. However, hard times hit North Carolina’s farmers before the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the 1920s, North Carolina was still very much a rural state. Half of the total population lived on working farms. Agriculture was the largest industry. But farmers’ income had declined steadily. The scale and severity of the Great Depression demanded more assistance than farmers could provide on their own. Governor O. Max Gardner (1929–1933) pledged to improve agricultural and rural life. He introduced the “Live-at-Home” program, which encouraged Tar Heels to grow more food crops for their families and livestock, and less cash crops for sale. Home demonstration agents working under the direction of North Carolina State College (now North Carolina State University) assisted the program by showing women across the state how to can and preserve food. Agricultural extension agents in every county taught farmers the benefits of crop rotation, deeper plowing, better seed selection, crop diversity, and the correct use of fertilizer. Shortly the amount of land devoted to cotton fell by 536,000 acres, and corn production increased by 10 million bushels.
October 28, 1936
Charlie Daniels born in Wilmington
Musician Charlie Daniels was born in Wilmington in 1936. Daniels developed an interest in music early in life and was strongly influenced by a number of styles. He honed his skills on guitar, mandolin and fiddle in North Carolina, learning to play his first chords from his friend Russell Palmer. After graduating from Goldston High School in 1955, he formed a rock and roll band with Palmer, playing a Saturday show on a Sanford radio station. Moving back to Wilmington, Daniels began playing with an R&B group, The Rockets. Their recording of “Jaguar” was picked up for national distribution by Epic in 1957. Throughout the 1960s he gained more national attention, co-wiritng a song performed by Elvis Presley and playing with Bob Dylan. In 1970, he formed the Charlie Daniels Band, which gained fame for playing its acclaimed melding of rock, country, blues, bluegrass and gospel. The band’s hits include “Uneasy Rider,” “Long Haired Country Boy,” “The South’s Gonna Do it Again” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Daniels’s many musical accolades include membership in the Grand Ole Opry; induction into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame; and several Grammy, CMA and Gospel Music Association awards.
October 30, 1960
Premier of The Andy Griffith Show
The first episode of The Andy Griffith Show aired on CBS Television on October 30th. The program starred Mount Airy native Andy Griffith and focused on life in the fictional community of Mayberry, North Carolina, said to be have been modeled after Griffith’s hometown. Already a Broadway, radio and film actor, Griffith landed the role of Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show wherein the sheriff arrested Thomas’s character for running a stop sign. Eight months after the Danny Thomas episode aired featuring the character, The Andy Griffith Show debuted. Filmed at Desilu Studios in California, the wholesome half-hour show featured the small-town antics of the widowed Sheriff Taylor, his bumbling deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts), son Opie (Ron Howard), spinster housekeeper Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) and other colorful Mayberry characters. Unlike most comedic sitcom stars, Griffith played the straight man role. Neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its eight seasons, but co-stars Knotts and Bavier received a combined total of six Emmys. When The Andy Griffith Show ended in 1968, it was the number-one ranked show on television. Many of its 249 episodes still appear in syndication.