Harrell is ‘flying with the angels’

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

KITTY HAWK – Although he never experienced what the famous Wright Brothers accomplished here 100 years ago on the shifting sands of the Outer Banks, Calvin Harrell of Ahoskie was listed among the aviation immortals during a special ceremony here recently.

Harrell, who lost his courageous battle against cancer in March, had his name etched in one of the numerous bricks that line the inner circle of the newly christened Monument to a Century of Flight.

That monument – &uot;an enduring legacy to the history and the beauty and mysteries of flight and to the soaring of the human spirit&uot; – sits on state-owned land adjoining the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Aycock Brown Welcome Center located on US 158 on the northern end of the beach.

&uot;This was a very special day for the Harrell family,&uot; said Thelma Harrell of Ahoskie, the widow of Calvin Harrell. &uot;What made it so special was that the brick with Calvin’s name inscribed was the very first one laid in the courtyard.&uot;

Mrs. Harrell went on to say that her late husband developed a tremendous interest in aviation, dating back to when he was just a young child.

&uot;Calvin perhaps knew more about how a plane worked than most pilots do,&uot; she noted. &uot;He could sit for hours and hours and talk about different planes and how they were unique from one another.&uot;

She continued, &uot;Calvin use to get into trouble at school because when he was suppose to be doing his work in class, he was drawing pictures of airplanes. One of his teachers told him that if he would concentrate on his class work with the same effort that he studied aviation, he could be anything he wanted to be.&uot;

The late Mr. Harrell was always appreciative of the efforts put forth by the famed Wright Brothers.

&uot;Calvin marveled at their insight into heavier than air flight,&uot; noted Mrs. Harrell. &uot;There was never a time when we went to the Outer Banks that Calvin didn’t want to visit the Wright Brothers Memorial.&uot;

What made the unveiling of the monument even more special to the Harrell family was the fact that one of their own – Franklin McCoy Parker Jr. of Knightdale – was the contractor that performed the work on the engraved granite panels and the courtyard bricks at the monument. Parker is the nephew of the late Mr. Harrell.

&uot;During the dedication service, Franklin was recognized for his work on the monument,&uot; said Mrs. Harrell. &uot;We were so proud of him and so very thankful to him for placing that brick in the courtyard in memory of his uncle. Franklin always loved his Uncle Calvin.&uot;

The dedication ceremony was attended by numerous state and local officials, including Marc Basnight, President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate. Tom Poberezny, president of the Experimental Aircraft Association, served as the guest speaker.

The concept for a Monument to a Century of Flight was the idea of North Carolina artist Glenn Eure. His dream was designed by Hanna and Jodi Jubran, professors of sculpture at the East Carolina University School of Art.

Fourteen stainless steel pylons, wing-foil shaped and arranged in an orbital pattern, compose the monument’s essential structure. Starting at 10 feet in height, the pylons begin ascending midway in the orbit, symbolizing man’s journey to the moon and his continuing quest to reach greater heights. That quest is seen in the 14th pylon, standing 20-feet in height and directing the view towards the future and to those who will pioneer its new worlds.

All of the pylons are set slightly above the monument’s aggregate base, creating an illusion of floating or lift. Each are set in an orbit of 120 feet, the exact distance traveled by the Wright brothers during their historic 12-second flight at Kitty Hawk on Dec. 17, 1903.

Affixed to the flat faces of each pylon are black granite engravings that provide, in chronological order, the language and images of the 100 significant events of aviation history. Those engravings are taken from drawings created by Eure.

The orbit of the pylons concludes at a bronze dome that, set against a backdrop of the continents of Earth, includes the wording of a 1903 telegram announcing the liftoff.

Inside the orbit of the pylons and surrounding the center bronze dome are the inscribed bricks, from where Calvin Harrell’s name will forever be listed among those from all walks of life and, like him, shared the same soaring spirit.

After the close of the ceremony, a time capsule containing the thoughts from 2003 to those in the year 2103 was placed at the entrance marker by members of the First Flight Club of Rotary International.