Jockey’s Ridge State Park Turns 40 This May

save-our-sand-dunes-tshirt-jockeys-ridge-nags-headIt’s likely that few North Carolinians can recall the circumstances that lead to Jockey’s Ridge becoming a state park on May 31, 1975.

The rolling sand dunes – spotted with vegetation – were on the verge of becoming a residential development until a woman by the name of Carolista Baum stopped the dismantlement of the dune system. In a daring attempt to halt progress on the new development, she stood in front of a bulldozer that was in the process of flattening Jockey’s Ridge.

Word of her courageous act quickly traveled, and an organization known as The People to Preserve Jockey’s Ridge was established. After two years of efforts by the group, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation was asked to study the feasibility of making Jockey’s Ridge a state park… and the rest is history.

The tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States, Jockey’s Ridge will celebrate its 40th anniversary since officially becoming a state park this May.

Bruce Weaver, Vice President of Recreation at Kitty Hawk Kites had this to say about the state park: “Jockey’s Ridge is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places on the Outer Banks. People come from all over to visit the park, fly a kite, and learn to fly off the dunes on a hang glider.”

The park was the center for hang gliding on the East Coast in the 70s in 80s. The sport of hang gliding has grown substantially since then, however Jockey’s Ridge’s soft sand and smooth winds continue to make it an ideal place to learn how to hang glide in the United States.

“We [Kitty Hawk Kites] have a great relationship with the state park administration, and we certainly enjoy flying hang gliders off the dunes,” says John Harris, Founder of Kitty Hawk Kites. “There’s no reason to believe that Jockey’s Ridge won’t still be here on the Outer Banks for at least another 40 years.”

To commemorate the fourth decade of the area being managed by NC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, the public is invited to come enjoy live music by Mojo Collins, free Rita’s ice and hot dogs, a video of the 1975 dedication ceremony, and a children’s sand art class.

There will be limited edition t-shirts commemorating the event available for purchase at the celebration. The event takes place from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Sunday, May 31 at the Jockey’s Ridge State Park Visitors Center (300 W Carolista Drive in Nags Head, NC). Admission is free!

For more information about the event, please visit the Friend’s of Jockey’s Ridge Facebook page.

Hang Gliding Spectacular-It’s Just Fun

Kitty Hawk Kites President and founder, John Harris, launching from Jockey's Ridge on Saturday.

Kitty Hawk Kites President and founder, John Harris, launching from Jockey’s Ridge on Saturday.

You can never tell who is going to show up at the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Spectacular. Or perhaps better said—who’s going to fly.

The winds Saturday were strong, from the south and a little gusty. Over the past few years the best flying conditions have moved to the south face of Jockey’s Ridge, and there were a number of hang gliding pilots having some fun with what were good if challenging conditions.

And at the top of the ridge, there was company President and founder, John Harris, prepping gliders, holding the nose down as pilots strapped themselves in and talking wind conditions as pilots got ready to launch.

About the time pilots started leaving, was about the time John decided it was his turn—after all, he may have been the first person to fly a hang glider off the Nags Head dunes.  Forty-one years after he founded the company, John showed he still knows hang gliders. It was a beautiful flight . . . smooth, good distance and he stuck the landing.

“It’s just fun to get lifted off the ground and to be able to control the glider,” he said. “It brings back a lot of fond memories of flying.”

The Kitty Hawk Kites hang gliding school is the oldest and largest in the world, teaching from ages 4-92 how to fly. Really, that’s the ages they have taught to fly. It’s a great family memory and wonderful way to spend a day.

Hang Gliding Spectacular & More


The 43rd Kitty Hawk Hang Gliding Spectacular Weekend is finally here. Look for great competition in a beautiful setting and four days of fun.

Taking place at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the Hang Gliding Spectacular is the oldest hang gliding competition around, and it’s worthiest to see old friends gather and talk about the great experiences they’ve had.

The Hang Gliding Spectacular is only one of the many great event Kitty Hawk Kites has scheduled for the year. There is no way to write about everything at once, but here are the upcoming events through June.


BIC SUP One Design Series

May 24, Manteo Store Location

Bring the family because this competition is all au fun. A great way to discover how much fun Standup Paddle Boarding (SUP) can be and how fantastic it is for the whole family. All levels of competition welcome.


Rogallo Kite Festival

Jun 5, 2015 – Jun 7, 2015, Kitty Hawk Kites, Jockey’s Ridge Crossing and Jockey’s Ridge State Park

A celebration of the genius of Francis Rogallo, a NASA scientist and inventor of the “Rogallo Wing”, the flexible wing that is used in hang gliders, paraglider and most stunt kites.

Check out the daily kite demonstrations and huge kites that will be flying over Jockey’s Ridge all three days. Try your hand at stunt kite flying at one of the world’s finest kite flying locations.

BIC SUP One Design Series

Jun 11, Duck Kitty Hawk Kites

We’re taking our BIC SUP One Design series to the waters of the Currituck Sound. Check out how much fun SUP can be.

Kid’s Day

Don’t forget our world-famous Kid’s Day is happening all summer long. Check out the schedule below for when your child can have their face painted, try their hand at tossing a yoyo and learn how to make a kite.


Avon (10AM – NOON)

Waves (1:30 – 4:30)

Corolla (2PM – 4PM)


Nags Head (10AM – 2PM)

Hatteras ( 2PM – 4PM)

Adventure Excitement for Mother’s Day

Mom and daughters getting ready for a kiteboarding lesson at Kitty Hawk Kites Waves Village.

Mom and daughters getting ready for a kiteboarding lesson at Kitty Hawk Kites Waves Village.

With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday the question many of us are asking is, “What does Mother want for Mother’s Day?”

Kitty Hawk Kites certainly has all the traditional jewelry, clothes and shoes that get put in a box, wrapped beautifully and opened to “oohs” and “ahhs”.
But Kitty Hawk Kites has a gift that almost no one else has—the gift of excitement.

Just because she’s your mother doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to soar above the dunes or skim across the water on a kiteboard.

Kiteboarding especially is a sport that is appealing to more and more mothers as gear becomes more specialized and better designed for the size and strength of  women. “The new kites that are out there are very depowerable, “ Nick Piacenza, Manager of the Kitty Hawk Kites kiteboarding school. What he means by that is the kites can be adjusted to the size of the user, so a smaller person is not overwhelmed by the power of the wind.

As more women try their hand at kiteboarding, the design of the equipment has become better suited for women. “When we give a lesson, we have gear for each individual,” Nick says.

Giving lessons from the the company’s Waves Village Watersports Resort in Waves, the conditions found on the Pamlico Sound are some of the best in the world for learning the sport. “We have steady southwest winds in the summer and shallow water in the sound,” Nick says. “It’s one of the few places in the world that are like that.”

Outer Banks Adventure Leader

Teaching the world to fly at Jockey's Ridge State Park.

Teaching the world to fly at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

Kitty Hawk Kites is the adventure leader on the Outer Banks. It’s a safe statement to make because nobody else does so many activities and does them all so well.

Because we do so many things and do them so well, it can get pretty crazy in the summer, so the time to make the reservation for a summer lesson is now. Even though as a company we expand how many lessons we give and train some of the best instructors anywhere, classes do fill up.

Here is a list of the adventure lessons Kitty Hawk Kites offers: hang gliding—we are the oldest and largest hang gliding school in the world; paragliding; kiteboarding—if there is a better place to learn than the Pamlico Sound where our school is located, we’ve never heard of it; stand-up paddle boarding (SUP); surfing; wakeboarding and waterskiing.

There is truly something for everyone in what we teach . . . and the best part about it is that many of our activities can be done by kids and adults of all ages.

These are just the lessons that Kitty Hawk Kites offers. There is all of this and more in the adventure packages that have given so many visitors the opportunity to explore a side of the Outer Banks they may never have known.

We’ll write about that later.