Hangin’ With Kites With Lights

Kites with Lights, 2014.

Kites with Lights, 2014.

With temperatures still in the 70s and bright sunshine, it seems like Christmas is a long way off, but here it is November, Thanksgiving is just two weeks away and it’s a sure bet Santa is gearing up for his annual flight.

The Christmas season with Kitty Hawk Kites is really something special. We always begin the official season over Thanksgiving Weekend, with our Hangin’ With Santa on Friday and Saturday with a visit from that “fat jolly old elf”. If it’s raining or snowing or just too cold, Santa will be hanging inside the Kite store where they’ll be hot cocoa and plenty of cookies.

Saturday evening make a point of checking out our Kites with Lights at Jockey’s Ridge State Park as we paint the sky with lights soaring into the night sky attached to kites. Be sure to dress for the weather. It can be cold and windy on Jockey’s Ridge.

The holiday season is a time for giving gifts and Kitty Hawk Kites has a great selection of kites, toys, games, clothing, footwear—just about anything needed for kids or someone special.

Of course there’s lot’s of other activities on the Outer Banks as well during the holiday season. One of our favorites is Winter Lights at Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island. The Elizabethan Gardens is a wonderful 10 acre formal garden and during Winter Lights thousands of lights decorate the trees, plants and decorations. The Grand Illumination is Friday, November 27 and after that the Gardens are open Wednesday through Sunday to stroll along the pathways illuminated by the light of the decorations.

Kitty Hawk Kites Thanksgiving Weekend Schedule of Activities.


Photos with Santa- Jockey’s Ridge Crossing

10:00 AM – 2:00 PM


Photos with Santa- Jockey’s Ridge Crossing

1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Kites with Lights- Jockey’s Ridge State Park

4:00 PM – DARK

Sandboarding Fun at Jockey’s Ridge State Park

sandboarding-jockeys-ridge-state-parkA lesser-known activity that’s available at Jockey’s Ridge State Park is sandboarding. The dunes are recognized as being one of the best spots to fly a kite on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and considered by many to be the number one place to learn how to hang glide in the country.

Although the Wright brothers chose to fly their homemade gliders off Kill Devil Hill to the north, Jockey’s Ridge’s soft sand and smooth winds make the dune system a premier location for aviation recreation.

Apart from the incredibly ideal kite flying and hang gliding conditions, Jockey’s Ridge State Park is considered to be the very best spot for sandboarding on the East Coast – a designation that is rarely touted by the park. The area doesn’t receive much snow – maybe 1 to 2 inches a year – so board riding locals have gravitated to the dune for sandboarding fun for decades.


While sandboarding may seem similar to snowboarding, the sand can make it more challenging to carve turns compared to snow. One of the best advantages of choosing sandboarding is that all you need is a good board and enough endurance to scale up and down the dunes after riding down because unlike snowboarding, there are no ski lifts!

In addition to sandboarding, the younger audience typically enjoys sand dune sledding, which is a casual affair here on the Outer Banks… which fits into the laid-back lifestyle you’ll find elsewhere on the thin strip of barrier islands. On any given day, you’ll be able to easily spot kids of all ages sliding down the dunes on cardboard boxes and body boards. Sand sledding does not require a permit, however sandboarding with bindings on the board does and is only permitted on the dunes from October through March.

Permits must be obtained from the park office and parents will be required to sign for anyone under 18. Please visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park’s website for additional information about the park and other recreational activities available.

Consider Renting a Sandboard

We do rent sandboards out of the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School, located at 302 Carolista Drive in Nags Head, NC. The cost is $20 for four hours, and $40 for the entire day. You will not need a permit if you rent a sandboard from Kitty Hawk Kites, however you will be required to sign a waiver.

If you have any questions regarding our sandboard rentals check out more information about sandboarding contact our Hang Gliding School directly at (252) 441-2426.

Rogallo Kite Festival

Francis Rogallo posing with his Rogallo Wing beside a NASA reentry capsule.

Francis Rogallo posing with his Rogallo Wing beside a NASA reentry capsule.

The 33rd Annual Kitty Hawk Kites Rogallo Kite Festival is coming up this weekend, June 5-7, at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. It looks as though there’s going to be some good winds for kite flying, the early forecast calls for a chance for rain but it stays below 50%, so it should be a great time on the dunes.

The festival is a fantastic at way to remember a wonderful and amazing man.

Francis Rogallo, who died at age 97 in 2009, was the father of hang gliding. A NASA scientist, in 1948 he and his wife, Gertrude, sitting around the kitchen table invented a steerable, flexible wing that did not require a frame. The significance of his patent, which he gave to the government of the United States at no charge, is apparent everywhere.

Every time a hang glider is seen, or a stunt kite, a paraglider or a modern parachute, that aircraft is a direct descendant of the work Mr. Rogallo did.

His deployable flexible wing was almost used instead of a parachute to bring early space capsules back to earth, but concerns about how to store the wing and how it would be rigged made the simpler basic parachute the better option.

As a person, Mr. Rogallo was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. A kind, very patient man, he genuinely seemed to enjoy talking to people about almost any subject. Although he is best known for inventing the Rogallo Wing, that was not his only significant contribution to flight. He also holds patents in the lateral control of aircraft and jet aircraft design.

Showing faith in his invention, Mr. Rogallo flew hang gliders until he was 80.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park Turns 40 This May

save-our-sand-dunes-tshirt-jockeys-ridge-nags-headIt’s likely that few North Carolinians can recall the circumstances that lead to Jockey’s Ridge becoming a state park on May 31, 1975.

The rolling sand dunes – spotted with vegetation – were on the verge of becoming a residential development until a woman by the name of Carolista Baum stopped the dismantlement of the dune system. In a daring attempt to halt progress on the new development, she stood in front of a bulldozer that was in the process of flattening Jockey’s Ridge.

Word of her courageous act quickly traveled, and an organization known as The People to Preserve Jockey’s Ridge was established. After two years of efforts by the group, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation was asked to study the feasibility of making Jockey’s Ridge a state park… and the rest is history.

The tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States, Jockey’s Ridge will celebrate its 40th anniversary since officially becoming a state park this May.

Bruce Weaver, Vice President of Recreation at Kitty Hawk Kites had this to say about the state park: “Jockey’s Ridge is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places on the Outer Banks. People come from all over to visit the park, fly a kite, and learn to fly off the dunes on a hang glider.”

The park was the center for hang gliding on the East Coast in the 70s in 80s. The sport of hang gliding has grown substantially since then, however Jockey’s Ridge’s soft sand and smooth winds continue to make it an ideal place to learn how to hang glide in the United States.

“We [Kitty Hawk Kites] have a great relationship with the state park administration, and we certainly enjoy flying hang gliders off the dunes,” says John Harris, Founder of Kitty Hawk Kites. “There’s no reason to believe that Jockey’s Ridge won’t still be here on the Outer Banks for at least another 40 years.”

To commemorate the fourth decade of the area being managed by NC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, the public is invited to come enjoy live music by Mojo Collins, free Rita’s ice and hot dogs, a video of the 1975 dedication ceremony, and a children’s sand art class.

There will be limited edition t-shirts commemorating the event available for purchase at the celebration. The event takes place from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Sunday, May 31 at the Jockey’s Ridge State Park Visitors Center (300 W Carolista Drive in Nags Head, NC). Admission is free!

For more information about the event, please visit the Friend’s of Jockey’s Ridge Facebook page.

Springtime=Hang Gliding Spectacular

The weather has turned springtime spectacular–lots of sunshine, temperatures have stayed moderate and the daytime breezes are a reminder of how perfect the Outer Banks is for wind sports.

Coming in for a landing at the 2014 Hang Gliding Spectacular

Coming in for a landing at the 2014 Hang Gliding Spectacular.

The big event for springtime wind sports is coming up in just a few weeks—the Kitty Hawk Kites 43rd Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular is May 15-18. Held at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, right across from the flagship Kitty Hawk Kites store in Nags Head, it’s a competition but there’s a lot of fun to it and as hang gliding competitions go, this one is very viewer friendly, according to VP of Recreation Bruce Weaver.

“It’s an introduction to a lot of people to dune flying,” he said. “It’s very spectator friendly.”

It is a competition. “The oldest around,” Bruce mentioned. But after 43 years the event has become as much about renewing old friendships as it is competing. “We view it as a kind of reunion,” he said. “It’s not a cutthroat completion by any means.”

The competition runs Friday through Monday, although the Monday competition are aero towing events. It’s difficult to say if there is a highlight to the weekend. The dune competition is fun to watch. For a real feel for what the event is like though, check out the Woody Jones Memorial Street Dance on Saturday night in the Nags Head store parking lot. It’s always a lot of fun with old friends stopping by.