Kitty Hawk Kites, with the help of some great old friends in the kite-flying world, turned the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills into a wonderland of all things kites this past Saturday and Sunday for the 33rd Annual Wright Kite Festival. It was, I think, my favorite Outer Banks event so far. My responsibilities at the event revolved around keeping our twelve-foot delta kites in the air. And when the wind cooperated, the kites needed no help from me. So I had a chance to sit back and observe all that’s “Wright” with the world.
There’s just something about flying a kite that takes people back. Back to a simpler time when getting that kite to fly was the most pressing issue you’d face. If you haven’t had the good fortune of attending a Kitty Hawk Kites sponsored event, we do a lot of kite-making for kids. The kites are paper and pretty simple in design. Our faithful (and very patient) events staff members cut and tie the kites. Then attach a string, and off they go to explore this new and wonderful world of kiting.
The younger kids don’t quite understand the finer points of flying. Once the kite gets airborne, they’re so excited to see it fly that they drop the string and bye-bye kite. Nine times out of ten, they don’t catch on in time to catch the kite, and off it goes. Enter adoring parents, who dart across the field in a (vain) attempt to recover the wayward flyer. Rarely is the recovery successful. But learning to hold on to the things that bring life joy is a valuable lesson for kids to learn.
But the most entertaining scene was one that repeated itself over and over again all weekend long. Bonafide adults, and even a few grandparents, flying these little paper kites with childlike enthusiasm. I’m not waxing sentimental in my recounting here; if I saw this scenario once, I saw it a thousand times. Normal, responsible, mature adults time-warped to their childhood simply by holding the string of a little paper kite. We think that’s a sign that there’s plenty “Wright” with the world.
Add to the kite flying frenzy: “O.L.O.” the 130-foot over-large octopus and “Mel” the life-sized blue whale. And what you’ve got is Outer Banks kiting euphoria.
We think Orville and Wilbur would be proud to see the hallowed ground on which they once explored flight, host the Wright Kite Festival to celebrate all that’s “Wright” with the world.
Special thanks to our good friends Terry and Janice Murray, Jeff and Joyce King, Dennis Hawley, Emily and Laura Rose, Jeff Burka, Chris Schultz from HQ Kites. Thanks for putting on an amazing show and bringing with them an excitement for kites and flight that made the whole weekend one to remember.
Originally posted on July 19. 2011. Updated on Jan. 22, 2020.