North Carolina’s Outer Banks: A Destination Any Time of Year

Thank you for the recent feature, Sara Kendall, of the Epicurean! “Spanning over 200 miles in a string of narrow barrier islands, the Outer Banks is an ocean haven anytime of the year. The locals refer to them as OBX, and millions of people make these islands their vacation destination. Looking to book a winter retreat or plan next summer’s getaway? The Outer Banks is a fabulous choice no matter the time of year you decide to venture to the ocean breezes.”

This Article from the Charlotte Epicurean on just a few of the reasons why the OBX is so special hit the nail on the head! We have so much to do here and a ton of great dining options! What are you going to choose to do today?

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.

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!

Anniversary of Wright Brothers Dec. 17 Flight

The scene from the 1902 Glider when in flight.

The scene from the replica of the Wright Brothers 1902 Glider when in flight.

When Orville Wright took his place at the controls of the aircraft he and his brother, Wilbur, had built on a cold, windy December day, he was confident that flight was possible. Launching into a 20-25 mph wind, the Wright Flyer lifted into the air and in 12 seconds the history of the world changed.

Later in the day, Wilbur demonstrated that the flight was not fluke, flying the aircraft 852’ in 59 seconds.

December 17, 1903 is one of the most important days in modern history, and at the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills the achievement is celebrated annually.

This year the ceremony begins at 9:00 a.m. with local groups and high schools participating—the First Flight High School Advanced Chorus will perform the National Anthem (they are very good) and a Kitty Hawk Boy Scout Troop will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

The highlight of the ceremony always occurs at 10:35 a.m. with a military flyover, the exact time of Orville’s first flight.

The original Wright Flyer is in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and an exact replica is housed in the rotunda of the Wright Brothers Monument. No one is taking them out for a flight, but for the adventurous who may wish to experience flight the way the Wright brothers did, Kitty Hawk Kites has one of the few replicas of their 1902 glider that was so important in learning how to fly.

It does take a stiffer breeze to fly it than our hang gliders (15-25mph), but for anyone looking for a truly unique flight experience, this is as different as it gets. Safe, the aircraft is tethered, flying this living piece of history is an event that will create a lifelong memory.

Hang Gliding Lesson 39 Years in the Making


Since our hang gliding school was founded way back in 1974, we’ve been handing out wind checks (our form of a rain check) to participants who are unable to complete their dune hang gliding lesson for one reason or another.

hang-gliding-lessons-kitty-hawk-kitesOur wind checks are typically redeemed within the following days after they’re issued, or at most within the next year or so as many people who vacation on North Carolina’s Outer Banks return year-after-year.

Rarely do we see a wind check show up at our hang gliding school at Jockey’s Ridge State Park that’s more than five years old. However, there are some exceptions.

Midway through this August, we had two women show up at our hang gliding school with tattered wind checks in hand. We were amazed to find out that one of the wind checks was from 1976, and the other was from 1979!

The two graciously donated their brochure, wind check, and student handbook, items they carefully held onto for nearly 40 years, with hopes of one day making it back to Nags Head to hang glide. The wind check from 1979 was particularly interesting, as Kitty Hawk Kites’ president and founder John Harris had signed it when it was initially issued.

hang-gliding-wind-check-kitty-hawk-kitesWe’re unsure of what caused each of them to initially receive their vouchers, however we were trilled to finally be able to get them out on the sand dunes and in the air.

No matter how long you hold onto your voucher for one of our activities, it will always retain it’s value in terms of the activity, regardless of the price difference between a hang gliding lesson booked in 1976 and one booked today in 2015.


Update: We learned that the wind check from 1976 was issued to Edie H. when the wind completely died off during the middle of her hang gliding lesson. Laine D. kindly shared the collection of photos below that were taken during the partial lesson in 1976 with us on Facebook… Enjoy!

hang-gliding-lesson-1976-kitty-hawk-kites hang-gliding-jockeys-ridge-state-park-1976 kitty-hawk-kites-hang-gliding-school hang-gliding-lesson-kitty-hawk-kites-1976 vintage-hang-gliding-photo-kitty-hawk-kites


Hang Gliding Memories

"I Flew Jockey's Ridge" for more than 20 years one of the most popular designs.

“I Flew Jockey’s Ridge” for more than 20 years one of the most popular designs.

John Harris, the President and founder of Kitty Hawk Kites, started teaching people to fly from Jockey’s Ridge in 1974 and it didn’t take him long to figure out that a hang gliding dune lesson and T-shirt went together as naturally as ice cream and a hot day.

For about as long as there has been a Kitty Hawk Kites, T-shirts have been a great way for people to remember their visit to the stores and the Outer Banks. We create our own designs—they are not available anywhere else—and we make sure they’re built to last. In fact, they hold up so well, they’ve traveled the world, and people have sent us photos from distant places and lands wearing our T-shirts.


Every year some designs really stick out, but one of the oldest designs we have is still one of the most popular. “I Flew Jockey’s Ridge” has been around so long no one can quite remember when it was introduced but after talking to some of former employees about the shirt, we know it’s been here for at least 20 years.

KHKtropicalWe try to keep things fun and sometimes funny with our designs—after all, flying a hang glider is fun! And we also know it’s a great way to remember a wonderful memory.

For anyone who is traveling to parts unknown and would like to send us a picture of a Kitty Hawk Kites T-Shirt, take the pic and reply to this blog.