March 25, 2024

50 Years of Kitty Hawk Kites

Kitty Hawk Kites, a premier adventure and retail company based in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, proudly announces its anniversary, marking 50 years of outdoor adventures, community engagement, and unparalleled service excellence. 

John Harris, CEO, founded Kitty Hawk Kites in 1974 after discovering the sport of hang gliding, and ultimately deciding to share it with the world. John Harris began teaching hang gliding lessons, making glider repairs and selling t-shirts and gear out of an old garage shop across the street from Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Over the past five decades, the company has grown into a beloved retail and outdoor recreation spot with more than 28 store locations up and down the east coast and more than 25 Outer Banks based adventures. Additionally, the company has become synonymous with its core values of fun, quality and value, customer service excellence and safety, earning a respected reputation among locals and tourists alike. 

It’s been an honor that we’ve been able to continue to teach people to fly and glide, as well as help families create memories throughout the years as we’ve grown.” Harris said, noting that the success of the company is owed to the place and the people who have upheld it. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of dedicated staff, enthusiastic customers and the vibrant community of the Outer Banks.”  

John Harris, photo courtesy of Chris Hannant

Throughout its history, Kitty Hawk Kites has remained committed to its mission of teaching the world to fly, in both a literal and figurative sense. While physically getting people off the ground through aviation adventures, KHK has also placed emphasis on creating uplifting customer experiences in every aspect of the company. Additionally, Kitty Hawk Kites employs its mission to elevate the community that surrounds it. The company actively participates in local beach clean ups, sponsors Outer Banks conservation efforts and charity fundraisers, and hosts many community events in the Outer Banks throughout the year aimed at bringing the community of vacationers and locals alike, together.  

Rogallo Kite Festival, Jockey's Ridge State Park

One of the many events that Kitty Hawk Kites shares with the OBX community

In honor of its 50th anniversary, Kitty Hawk Kites has planned a series of special events and promotions throughout the year, including:

*A season of events in recognition of 50 years of Kitty Hawk Kites including:

  • KHK Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular- May 16 through 19
  • Rogallo Kite Festival- June 14th through 15th
  • Wright Memorial Kite Festival- July 19th through 20th
  • Outer Banks Kite Festival- September 13th-14th
  • Kites with Lights- November 30th

*Special 50th anniversary merchandise 

*Archival photos and stories to be shared on KHK’s online channels throughout the year 

We’re really excited to celebrate this milestone with the community” said James Kahle, Marketing Director of Kitty Hawk Kites. “Our 50th anniversary is not just a celebration of our past achievements but also a testament to our ongoing commitment to providing uplifting experiences for generations to come. 

As Kitty Hawk Kites embarks on its next 50 years, the company remains dedicated to creating uplifting experiences for everyone while continuing to uphold its mission of teaching the world to fly. 

For more information about Kitty Hawk Kites and its 50th-anniversary celebrations, visit  

Media Contact:  

Madison Head 

Digital Content Manager 

Phone: (252) 202-6284  


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