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.

National Aviation Day on OBX

Running with a parachute a the Wright Brothers Memorial.

Running with a parachute a the Wright Brothers Memorial.

Back in 1939 FDR proclaimed August 19 as National Aviation Day—which dovetailed quite nicely with Orville Wright’s birthday. It’s never been one of the larger, more acknowledged national days, but here on the Outer Banks, where the Wright Brothers first proved that mankind could indeed have the skies, it does take on a little more significance.

There weren’t a lot aircraft on the ground at the Wright Brothers Memorial this year, although the 1947 Stinson Flying Station Wagon that Mark Roberts brought down for Elizabeth City was a beautiful aircraft.

Dare County’s brand new Airbus EC145 T2 Med Evac helicopter was on the ground. The old Med Evac helicopter was there giving a great comparison between the two. Smaller and less powerful than the EC145, the pilot mentioned it was like going from a 30 year old pickup to a brand new one.

Kitty Hawk Kites was on hand as well to celebrate National Aviation Day. There was a kite making workshop where kids get to make sled kites that really fly.

One of the most fun things was the parachute race—well, not really a race this time since there was only the one parachute. A small ‘chute with a large vent in the middle, when we were out there, a group of little kids were having a great time just trying to run with it.

There was a flyover later in the afternoon, with what looked like an F16 low and slow over the the Memorial grounds.

OBX Pirate Week a Fun Time

Thrust, slash, parry. Instructions in pirate sword techniques.

Thrust, slash, parry. Instructions in pirate sword techniques.

“Thrust . . . slash . . . parry!” The pirate weapons instructor commanded his young charge. Over and over the boy practiced the commands, his arms tired, legs weary, but at the end of it, the lad was ready to step on board with his 18” saber made of the finest plastic to be found.

Then it was to the cannon drill, firing off the two pound falcon and it’s mate, then the eight pounder followed by the the booming 12 pounder putting the fear of any scalawag or pirate within hearing of Jockey’s Ridge.

The 8 pounder fires a shot.

The 8 pounder fires a shot.

Pirate Week at Kitty Hawk Kites was a great week of fun for everyone—Mom and Dad, the pirates . . . but mostly the kids. Filled with important information about how to be a scalawag and how to use a pirate sword and the fearful medical things that would happen if a pirate were to be cut by a sword or fall ill, it was a great reminder of the heritage of the Outer Banks.

For visitors coming next week, Pirate Week will be gone, but there’s still lots to do.

August 19 is National Aviation Day. Free admission all day at the Wright Brothers Memorial, with lots of aviation related activities . . . kite making, historic aircraft will be on hand and much more.

Kites Fly at Wright Kite Fest

Decorating the sky at the 37th Annual Kitty Hawk Kites Wright Kite Festival.

Decorating the sky at the 37th Annual Kitty Hawk Kites Wright Kite Festival.

Mother Nature threw us a curve on Sunday for the second day of the 37th Annual Kitty Hawk Kites Wright Kite Festival—there was no wind, which on the Outer Banks has got to be considered an anomaly.

That’s actually a bit of an exaggeration—there were occasional puffs of winds, but the nice constant southwest breeze we’re so use to on the Outer Banks in the summer was sporadic.

That didn’t stop kite flyers for putting kites in the air.

Sled kite in flight.

Sled kite in flight.

Some of the larger kites that help decorate the sky had a tough time staying aloft but there were almost always a parafoil, large delta and assorted other kites flying to let people know something special was happening.

The sled kites the kids were making in the kite making workshop were flying great. The sled kite is a perfect beginner kite—run fast and the kite soars into the air.  Easy to make, easier to fly and customized with each child’s own decorations, it’s no wonder they’re always a hit at every festival.

The stunt kite flyers got in some flight time. In the demo field quad line flyers had their kites dancing to music a flitting across the sky.

Chris Shulz doing a 360 with a power kite.

Chris Shulz doing a 360 with a power kite.

One of the most impressive demonstrations came from Chris Shultz from HQ Kites who brought a quad line power kite with him. For about five minutes Chris had the kite flying with no wind, making a 360 degree turn around the field keeping the kite in the sky with just his movement.

Next up on the Kitty Hawk Kites entertainment agenda will be the Watermelon Festival at the Jockey’s Ridge Store in Nags Head. Face painting, watermelon seed spitting contest, games, lots of watermelon to consume  . . . a great day on the Outer Banks. Friday, July 30. Be there if you can.

Outer Banks Bike Paths

Beginning of the Woods Road multi-use path in Kitty Hawk.

Beginning of the Woods Road multi-use path in Kitty Hawk.

One of the nicest aspects of visiting or living on the Outer Banks is how wonderful it is for bike riding. There are a lot of bike paths and multi-use trails that make riding ideal for families, very few hills and most of the paths are nicely shaded.

To help the uninitiated along, here are four easy rides suitable just about everyone.

North End of Duck, Duck

The multi-use trail extends the complete distance of the town from the Currituck County line to Southern Shores. However, the Duck Village area can be very congested with foot traffic, so the better ride starts at the Sanderling Inn to the north end of the Village at Sunset Grille.

This is the hilliest of all rides, but very interesting. The ride goes past the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility, also known as the Duck Pier. Signs warn about unexploded ordinance in the fields. The road and path are safe. The fields are not. This was a bombing range in WWII.

The Woods Road, Kitty Hawk

A nicely shaded and well protected ride, this may be the best choice when the wind is stronger. The ride can be extended by bearing right at the fork in the road at Twifold and continuing on across the wooden bridge to the Austin Cemetery.

Two good places to park: either at the David Pruitt playground just past the Dominion Power offices at the beginning of the the Woods Road or at Sandy Run Park.

Wright Brother’s Memorial, Kill Devil Hills

A lot of history, a quick, flat easy ride—perfect for younger children. The road at the base of the Wright Brothers Memorial is a simple loop.

There’s a lot of parking at the site. The Airport parking lot off Ocean Bay Boulevard is also a good choice.

Roanoke Island, Manteo

Paralleling old US 64, this is one of the prettiest rides around. The path is well-shaded and takes riders past the Lost Colony and Elizabethan Gardens and through Island Farm. Another good ride on a windier day.

Things to think about

Whenever possible start your ride into the wind. It will make the return trip much more pleasant.

Take water. It will make a huge difference.