Our Lesson with Jockey’s Ridge State Park Super Intendant, Joy Greenwood

Since she began as the Jockey’s Ridge State Park Superintendent in 2017, Joy Greenwood has seen our hang gliders flying nearly every day, but with her position comes a sizable workload, which has stifled previous attempts to join our instructors for a lesson. But, after many conversations, we knew it would only be a matter of time until she took flight. This February we got a beautiful, sunny day, and Joy leaped at the opportunity; she came out for a lesson, and now we are happy to report we have a new pilot in training!

There had been some time leading up to this point for Joy to see other people flying. But, when asked what it was like to finally get out there and fly after seeing so many park visitors take their flights, Joy ecstatically replied, “It was truly exciting.  Having watched so many people come off the dunes with such happy looks on their faces, I really wanted to know what it felt like to  hang glide.” And although excited for herself, we’ve come to find she’s often thinking of the park’s visitors first, which is why for Greenwood, she feels it’s important to be able to explain to our visitors what to expect.  “As the park superintendent, I feel it’s important to understand all aspects of what our visitors experience here.  There are many people who come from all over the world to hang glide here and I wanted to have some incite into what draws them to Jockey’s Ridge.”

When we said ‘excited’ earlier, that perhaps was an understatement; so, we were not at all surprised to see Joy jump right into things, and although she claimed some nerves, we did not see any!

“Once the initial nervousness was over, I was able to take things in a little more.  The beauty of seeing the ocean off in the distance and feel the air blow over my whole body was exhilarating.  I can’t wait to get more practice and go on longer trips.”

When we saw her smile, we knew she finally had felt THAT feeling. The wind, the sand, the views, and we finally had gotten to share the feeling we knew so well, and with someone who’s become such a great friend of ours. There is no better feeling in the world than when you feel your feet leave the sand as the winds picks you up, except for the feeling of seeing that moment being passed along to a friend and student. The moment, is indescribable.

The new perspective was an exciting new take for her as well. She reflected how “the view of flying over the dunes is absolutely beautiful.” What our crew really appreciated was that even the park superintendent, who has seen every inch of the park, appreciated the different angle of things. “It is a wonderful experience to enjoy the beauty of the park from a different point of view.”

Stories like Superintendent Greenwood’s are plentiful from the thousands of students who have graced the threshold of the oldest hang gliding school in the world. Hearing each experience continues to reinforce the staff and the sport of hang gliding to continue to truly live and Teach the World to Fly.

Want to fly with us like Joy? Follow this link and save your spots today! 

 

Happy Birthday, Francis Rogallo!

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Francis Rogallo, the NASA aeronautical engineer widely known as the father of modern hang gliding, was born on January 27th, 1912. He eventually celebrated 97 birthdays, but one in particular stands out, in 1974. Just a few years after his retirement from NASA, hang gliding as a sport was truly taking off, and Rog, as he was known to nearly everyone, was invited for his birthday to what was supposed to be the “First Annual Rogallo Meet” at Escape Country, a premier hang gliding site near Trabuco Canyon, Ca.

Despite careful planning by organizer Kas de Lisse, the meet was a bit of a wash. Fog descended onto the mountain, and the ‘Fogallo’ meet was punctuated only by a few intrepid airmen making occasional flights into the mist, (“onward through the fog!”), guided to the landing area by shouts and amplified music. And the tales of the mud that weekend were reminiscent of Woodstock.

What was truly noteworthy was simply Rog’s presence. Most of the pilots knew his name, but his face was anonymous enough that he could wander through the assembled gliders unrecognized, many of which were varieties of what were known simply as “Rogallo Wings.”

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Maralys Wills, matriarch of the famous hang gliding Wills Wing family, described him beautifully in a piece she wrote for Groundskimmer Magazine:

 

“He was the tall man wearing the Russian Cossack hat; at close range, with his head cocked slightly in an attitude of listening, his eyes sparkling and an almost impish smile on his lips, he gave the impression of a tall leprechaun. One could see him throughout the day, observing with wonder the fruits of his earlier imagination. Francis Rogallo, whose birthday the meet was honoring, seemed almost removed from the arena of kiting. It was as if he had turned the switch, and then the machine had gone off and done its own thing.”

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Rog saw an incredible variety of designs at that meet, most of which were based on the flexible wing he and his wife Gertrude invented in 1948. After all the years of trying to get recognition for the possibilities of their invention, the tall, leprechaun-like man must have felt an almost disconnected sense of wonder at what had become of his idea. The machine had gone off and done its own thing, and people all over the world were learning to fly with simple, inexpensive wings–what he had always hoped would happen. He knew what was possible as early as 1949, when he wrote in an article for The Ford Times, “Imagine the thrill of carrying such a glider in your knapsack to the top of a hill or mountain, and then unfurling it and gliding down into the valley below.”

 

Happy Birthday Rog, and thanks for letting us all “imagine the thrill.”

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Written By Billy Vaughn, Francis Rogallo Historian

If you are interested in making a donation to The Rogallo Foundation, which supports educational opportunities involving aerodonetics and low-speed aerodynamics, you can click here!

KHK Celebrates Amazing Women in Aviation

Behind every good man, there’s a great woman… so who’s behind every great woman? Women’s History Month (March), International Women’s Day (March 8), and Women of Aviation Worldwide Week (March 7-13) has had us thinking about some pretty impressive ladies. Aviation history is full of women breaking social norms, setting records, and pioneering new ways.

We’ve managed to narrow down our 5 favorite aviatrix to share them with you here…

amelia_earhart_1928Amelia Earhart: Most famous for being the first female (and second person male or female) to fly nonstop solo across the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart was also the first  female to fly nonstop solo across the US, and the first pilot ever to fly solo from Hawaii to the US. Her last mission was to be the first woman to fly around the world. With only a few thousand miles left, Amelia vanished into a stormy night.

 

Jacqueline_Cochran_in_P-40Jacqueline Cochran: Record holder for many altitude, speed, and distance challenges of her time, Jacqueline Cochran, was the first female pilot to take off and land on an aircraft carrier, the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic, and the first pilot ever to fly above 20,000 ft without an oxygen mask. Recruiter and instructor for female combat pilots in WWII, Jacqueline was also the first aviatrix to run a Marilyn Monroe endorsed cosmetics company.


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Patty Wagstaff: As one of the best airshow pilots in the world, Patty Wagstaff has claimed gold, silver, and bronze medals in numerous Olympic level international Aerobatic Competitions. She is the first woman ever to become the US National Aerobatic Champion, and one of few to win such a title three times in a row. Patty is the recipient of numerous awards including the “First Lady of Aerobatics” Betty Skelton Award, “Sword of Excellence” Award, and “Bill Barber Award for Showmanship”. Patty has also been inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and was most recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Air Force Association.

 

another-tough-day-at-the-officeKari Castle: A three-time Hang Gliding World Champion, Hang Gliding and Paragliding National Champion, and multi world record holder in Women’s Hang Gliding, Kari is the first woman to qualify for the US National Hang Gliding Team. Kari still competes in Hang Gliding competition and leads clinics across the US including the 2014 Hang Gliding Spectacular here on the OBX.

 

 jennyJenny Hawk: The Outer Banks’ very own fearless female flyer, Jenny Hawk takes to the sky with her company, OBX Airplane, pulling banners, giving air tours, and teaching countless aspiring pilots, including Kitty Hawk Kites founder, John Harris, how to fly. Jenny has overcome tremendous adversities, but she continues to do the thing she loves and continues to inspire new pilots as they begin their aviation career.

 

 

These five woman are just a few of many, many impressive aviatrix… Who is your favorite female aviator? Share with us below!

A Great 2015-A Better 2016 on Tap

Scene from 2015 Hang Gliding Spectacular.

Scene from 2015 Hang Gliding Spectacular.

2015 was an amazing year on the Outer Banks and for Kitty Hawk Kites. We can’t thank all the wonderful customers who stopped by our stores and made it one of the best years we’ve ever had.

We’ve been adding new experiences—one of our favorites is the replica of the Wright Brothers 1902 glider that is available for flight. Pilots—check this one out. A living history adventure, we’re proud to offer this truly unique flight opportunity.

More new things we started dong this past year—Kitty Hawk Kites sponsored our first ever BrewTag, proving conclusively that beer kegs can fly . . . albeit not well. We are reserving judgment on how well beer can fly, though. After looking over the technical backgrounds of the entrants in the initial competition, there may be room for improvement over the current world BrewTag flight distance of 20’9”.

With Easter coming so early this year—March 27—our first big event is even earlier than usual. Our “Fly into Spring & Easter Eggstravaganza” is that weekend so be sure to check out all the fun.

We’re still finalizing some of the details on our event calendar, but here’s a good start on some of the amazing things we have scheduled for 2016.

Fly into Spring & Easter Eggstravaganza

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Mar 25, 2016 – Mar 26, 2016

Kitty Hawk Kites will be starting off the 2014 season with the annual “Fly into Spring & Easter Eggstravaganza!” Come join the Kitty Hawk Kites crew at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing to celebrate the start of a new season on the Outer Banks.

 

44th Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular

Coming in for a landing at the 2014 Hang Gliding Spectacular

May 13, 2016 – May 16, 2016

Kitty Hawk Kites is proud to announce the 2016 Hang Gliding Spectacular and Air Show! Join professional hang gliders, fans, and families at Jockey’s Ridge State Park for this Outer Banks tradition. This event is the longest running hang gliding competition in the world!

 

Rogallo Kite Festival

Life-sized blue whale kite in flight.

Jun 10, 2016 – Jun 12, 2016

Francis Rogallo was a NASA scientists and inventor of the flexible wing. His inventions started the sport of hang gliding and his designs have carried over into the stunt kites, power kites, and hang gliders that are flown today. We invite you to join us and raise a kite at the 33rd Annual Rogallo Kite Festival!

Outer Banks Pirate Festival

Slash, jab, parry. Instructions in pirate sword techniques.

Aug 10, 2016 – Aug 11, 2016

Get ready for a swashbucklin’ good time as Kitty Hawk Kites hosts the Outer Banks Pirate Festival. Pirates of the Outer Banks and their friends will be camped out at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing. Learn the vast history of pirates on the OBX, and participate in Scalawag school for the little ones to see if they have what it take to be a part of Blackbeards’ Crew!

BrewTag

First BrewTag launch of the day. The Kitty Hawk Kites glider established a new BrewTag world record of 20', soon to be shattered by Loonies on Tab.

October 22

Kegs will fly and everyone will have a great time. Enter your team early for the best chance to win. Or just spend the day hanging out and sampling some of the finest beer around and listening to great music.

Hangin’ With Santa/Kites With Lights

Santa Claus greeting a family at Kitty Hawk Kites.

November 25, 26

Look for Santa to stop by on Friday and Saturday with Kites with Lights filling the evening sky over Jockey’s Ridge State Park after sunset on Saturday. This is one of our oldest events and we really look forward to it every year.

A couple more events that we’re still putting the final touches on. We’ll keep you posted.

The Wright Kite Festival-Held every year at the Wright Brothers Memorial in July

Outer Banks Watermelon Festival-Games, music, food, and LOTS of watermelon. Tons of watermelon competitions including seed spitting. An August Event.

31st Annual Outer Banks Stunt Kite Competition-A regional kite flying competition, organized by the Eastern League Sport Kite Association, features some of the top competitive kite fliers in the nation, as well as a massive display of show kites, stunt and power kite demonstrations and lessons, kite making activities for the kids. Usually in September