Cold Stunned Sea Turtles Find Help in OBX


Green sea turtles rehabilitating from cold shock at Roanoke Island Aquarium. Photo K. Wilkins Photography

Every once in a while an event comes along and it’s a reminder of how amazing the people who live on the Outer Banks are. That’s the case with a recent spate of cold stunned sea turtles.

Over 340 turtles have been rescued from the beaches of Hatteras Island over the past week. Mostly green turtles, with a few Kemps Ridleys and loggerhead in the mix, it is for North Carolina an unprecedented event.

According to experts in the field, the most likely cause was an abnormally warm December with plummeting temperatures earlier this week.

The turtles will die unless they are rehabilitated and that’s where the can-do and volunteer spirit of the Outer Banks has come in to play.

Volunteers with N.E.S.T. (Network for Endangered Sea Turtles) and National Park Service employees have been combing the beach looking for turtles.

The turtles are taken to Cape Hatteras Secondary School, and then transported to the STAR Center at the Roanoke Island Aquarium. The STAR Center is a sea turtle rehab facility.

No one has ever seen anything like this and every where you look at the center, buckets and bins are filled with cold stunned turtles regaining their strength. Volunteers are constantly walking among the turtles, cleaning the water, feeding them and making sure they are recovering.

One of the most amazing facts is that only six have been lost so far.

The first batch of 85 has already been sent to Florida to be released in warm waters. Even that took a huge cooperative effort, from Fish and Wildlife supplying a truck for transportation to the permits that are required from every state along the route. According to the folks at the Aquarium the cooperation from all agencies has been absolutely outstanding.

The next batch of 85 turtles should be at the Fort Macon, NC Coast Guard Station by Monday. The Coast Guard has agreed to take the turtles to the Gulf Stream to release them.

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


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!


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

A Kitty Hawk Kites Christmas Wish

Headline from Wilmington, NC paper last time there was an Outer Banks white Christmas. Source, National Weather Service.

Headline from Wilmington, NC paper last time there was an Outer Banks white Christmas. Source, National Weather Service.

We don’t get white Christmases very often on the Outer Banks. In fact, they’re almost as rare as a confirmed sighting of Santa Claus coming down a chimney. We checked the records and the last time there was snow at Christmas around here was 1989, and that was a record breaking storm that brought with it single digit temperatures.

That seems to be more than a once in a lifetime event. After a an evening of research we finally found a reference that said the last time before the 1989 storm that there was a white Outer Bank Christmas was 1874. Figuring one white Christmas every 115 years, we’ll gas up the snow plows in the year 2104.

Nonetheless, the spirit of Christmas if very much alive and well on the Outer Banks. Our Kitty Hawk Kites stores are always stocked full of lots of fun stuff for kids, and a lot of what makes the holidays so special is watching the joy on a child’s face when a special gift is opened.

Of course it’s more than that, because what the kids represent is family, tradition and the love that binds generations together. Within that joy a child feels in getting a special gift is a lesson about the joy of giving, for mirrored in the child’s delight are the emotions the parents feel in giving that gift. It’s not a lesson an eight year old would know, it is one that an 18 year old will remember.

The Outer Banks at Christmas is a remarkable place—a place where family, tradition and a wonderful community spirit come together to create the best of lasting memories.

It is with that hope that all of your Christmas memories for this year and every year will be the best that the Kitty Hawk Kites family of employees wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Wright Brothers-American Originals

The Candy Bomber, C-54 Globemaster. Pilots during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 would drop candy from the airplane for children.

The Candy Bomber, C-54 Globemaster. Pilots during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 would drop candy from the airplane for children.

We were hoping the Candy Bomber would be part of the Wright Brothers flyover yesterday, but after waiting a half hour or so for the C-54 Skymaster to buzz the Monument, we figured it wasn’t coming.

There were a few aircraft on hand commemorating the 112th anniversary of powered flight, but without the Candy Bomber it didn’t have quite the excitement we were hoping for.

If the flyover wasn’t as exciting as we had anticipated, there is still the excitement of Orville and Wilbur Wright, two American originals who rewrote history. Here are a few facts about them that may not be that well known.

They would argue for days about concepts and ideas—loudly . . . very loudly, according to a number of sources. Over the course of their arguments there were times that they became convinced that the other brother’s points were the more valid and argue just as strongly for the idea they had originally rejected.

They were high school dropouts, both leaving school in their senior year. Wilbur was high-sticked in a hockey game and lost all of his front teeth taking three years to completely recover. Orville took college level classes his junior year in high school, but was told he couldn’t use those classes toward his senior year credits and he decided to not go back to school

Although high school dropouts they were extraordinarily widely read. Their father Bishop Milton Wright, believed a well-rounded individual read books on every subject and the house had a very well-stocked library.

The Wright Brothers were not the first to fly a powered aircraft. What they were the first to do, was fly a powered aircraft that could be controlled. A number of people had strapped an engine to a glider and took off. None of them were able to turn, bank or even land safely. Almost all of the early powered gliders were steered by shifting the pilots weight in the aircraft—an idea the Brothers rejected before their first glider.

Both the French and US governments initially refused to acknowledge the Wright Brothers were the first to fly a powered aircraft.

In France the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale laid down the ground rules for what would be a successful flight and according to them Alberto Santos-Dumont was the first person to demonstrate powered flight in 1906, although he still hadn’t figured out how to turn the plane.

The Europeans—and French in particular—were openly skeptical of the Wright Brother’s claims but that changed in a one minute 45 second flight at Le Mans when Wilbur demonstrated control over his aircraft that no one in Europe could hope to match. “You never saw anything like the complete reversal of position that took place after two or three little flights of less than two minutes each,” he wrote to his Orville.

The relationship with the US government—specifically the Smithsonian Institution—was far more troubled.

Samuel P. Langley was the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution at the turn of the 20th century and was considered one of the preeminent scientists of his day. With grants from the US Government that approached $75,000 (almost $2,000,000 in 2015 funds) and a series of almost successful unmanned flights behind him, he attempted two manned flights in 1903. Both were abysmal failures.

What happened next is rather complicated but makes for a good story. Langley’s successor at the Smithsonian, Charles Walcott, was convinced that the problem with Langley’s Aerodrome was the catapult launch system, not the aircraft.

In 1914 Walcott hired Glenn Curtis, another early pioneer in aviation who did not have a good relationship with the Wrights—he had lost a number of patent infringement lawsuits—to identify the flaws in Langely’s design and get it to fly. With considerable reengineering the Aerodrome was able to fly, leading the Smithsonian to claim the aircraft was, “The first man-carrying aeroplane in the history of the world capable of sustained free flight.”

Wilbur passed away from typhus in 1912, but Orville was livid, eventually sending the original Wright Flyer to the  London Science Museum in 1928. The Wright Flyer did not make it to the Smithsonian until 1948, a year after Orville’s death.

As stipulated by Orville, though, the Smithsonian issued a complete retraction of their original claim.

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.