This 1,100-acre preserve in Dare County is owned by the Nature Conservancy in conjunction with the towns of Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, and protects one of the few remaining maritime forests along the Outer Banks from development. Two large sand dunes, Jockey's Ridge to the south and Run Hill to the north protect the forest from the ocean saltwater and the protected freshwater allows diverse flora and fauna to thrive. The best way to experience this unique ecosystem is along the preserve's five or so miles of hiking trails. The Blueberry Ridge trail, which includes the Center and Sweetgum Swamp Trail is great choice for viewing ponds, swamps, and dunes within the preserve. The preserve is a great alternative to crowded beaches when vacationing in the Outer Banks. However, during the summer, be sure to wear plenty of bug spray.
According to the NPS website:
"Professional photographs of the Wright Brothers Visitor Center tend to exaggerate its modern features by emphasizing the shell roof. With the barren site as a backdrop, all sense of proportion is lost. Drawings are equally deceptive. Even written descriptions distort the building's image by focusing on its relationship to contemporary airport facilities. In fact, the Wright Brothers Visitor Center is a small, relatively understated building. Despite the elevating concrete platform, it sits low in the landscape, allowing the hilltop monument to take center stage. Wright Brothers Visitor Center satisfied Director Wirth's mandate of protection and use. The building focuses on experience — leading visitors into the building, introducing a few facts, and then pushing them out to the site. The Wright Brothers Visitor Center was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in February 1998 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in January, 3, 2001."
For those who prefer catching the big one over catching a tan, there is the Avalon Pier.
The 700 foot (213 m.) long pier was built in 1958.
For a live camera shot of the area around the pier, click on the website below. If you have a sound card on your machine, turn up the sound so you can hear the waves crashing around the pier.
Here, on a blustery December day in 1903, the Wright Brothers set out to do what many others had tried to do. Everyone else had failed, and many doubted that it could, or should, be done. But they did it. They launched the first successful heavier-than-air craft, their flyer.
The sea breeze is constant, and local people were accomodating. They built their camp here, and flew three times. The start and end points of each flight are represented by historical markers. It's worth noting that the entire first flight was shorter than the cargo hold of a Lockheed C-5 transport. But this is where aviation was invented.
There is a famous monument atop Kill Devil Hill, overlooking the site. Also, the pavilion offers exhibits and lectures by park rangers on the remarkable achievement of the two young men from Dayton. The Wrights' camp is also recreated here.
I am so happy that we stopped here. The museum is free and is filled historical information on aviation. I believe that it may have cost like $2 per person to enter. We walked from the visit center to the top of the Monument, we weren't aware that you could park at the bottom of the hill. It was a long walk but so worth it, the view at the top was incredible as well as the air that felt amazing!! Defiantly worth the trip!
This is once again in the exhibit area closest to the monument. The title of this exhibit struck me as a bit odd, but what do I know? I suppose more knowledgeable minds than this one have historically reduced the challenges to flight into these 5 categories.
So this area is not so photographic but the historical significance makes up for it. Take a stroll on the very spot where the first flights happened and touch history!
There is a granite marker which marks the very spot where the first flight left the ground with additional markers denoting the lengths of the first four flights made on that day in 1903.
I'm sorry that all of the text is not visible for you to read here... I guess this is where a better camera would be useful. Still, I hope you can see enough to have some idea of the presentation.
As you continue your drive that completely encircles the monument, you have the opportunity to view and photograph this site from a variety of angles. This is another and there will be more for you to see later.
I don't consider myself to be an accomplished photographer by any means and given my equipment is a one-time use camera, I do the best I can. Never-the-less, I am modestly proud of these pictures! Not for anything that I did, but it was such a beautiful day with big billowing clouds and the monument was very photogenic, don't you think?
We made a quick visit to the park before I went to the dentist to see where the first successful sustained powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine were made by Wilbur and Orville Wright. We went to the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, and circled the 60-foot granite monument atop 90-foot tall Kill Devil Hill. Then we went back another day because we had not seen the Centennial of Flight exhibit.
The Wrights thought that the information on lift had already been documented; that they could use a rudder like a boat rudder; and a propeller like a boat propeller. All wrong. The lift data was flawed, the boat rudder won't work on a plane, and all the work on props had been trial and error.
Bob had said that he didn't understand the way that the Wrights controlled their airplane, and the ranger at the visitor's center explained it. Pitch was controlled with the left hand (the engine throttle was in the right hand), and there was a hip cradle which controlled the yaw and roll. One of the Wright's breakthrough's was to link the roll and yaw into one control.
He said that the Wright Bros only patented one item and that was the control system for flying, and that all airplanes today use that system. They didn't bother to patent the prop design which is 81% efficient - modern ones are only 85% efficient.
Wilbur died in NYC in 1912 of typhoid, but Orville lived until 1948, and became wealthy.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial is open 9am-6pm in the summer and 9am-5pm the rest of the year.
$3.00 - 7 Days
$20 - Annual
Each year, one or more individuals who have been pioneers of aviation are honored by having their portraits hung in the Visitor's Center.
Pictured, going right to left on the top row:
1) Amelia Earhart 1898 - 1937 First Woman To Fly Solo Across The Atlantic, 1932 First Pilot To Fly Solo Hawaii To California, 1935 Inducted in 1968
2) General James H. Doolittle 1896 - 1993
First To Make An All-Blind Instrument Flight From Take Off to Landing, 1929. Inducted in 1969
3) Jacqueline Cochran 1906 - 1980 First Woman To Pilot An Aircraft Supersonically, 1953 Inducted in 1968
4) Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd 1888 - 1957
First To Fly Over The North Pole, 1926
First To Fly Over The South Pole, 1929. Inducted in 1968
5) General Charles E. Yeager 1923 -
First Person To Pilot An Aircraft At Supersonic Speed, 1947 Inducted in 1968
6) Captain Henry T. Merrill 1894 - 1982 First Pilot To Make A Commercial Round-trip Flight Over The Atlantic, 1937 Inducted in 1976
7) Grover C. Loening 1888 - 1976 Army’s First Civilian Aeronautical Engineer, 1914 Inducted in 1972
Coming back towards us starting far left on bottom row
1) Alberto Santos-Dumont (in the funny white hat) 1873 - 1932 First To Fly A Heavier-Than-Air Machine In Europe, 1906 Inducted in 1981
2) Bessie Coleman 1893-1926 First Black Woman Licensed Pilot Inducted in 1989
3) Lieutenant Thomas E. Selfridge 1882 - 1908 First Military Officer To Pilot An Airplane, 1908 First Fatality In Powered Aviation, 1908 Inducted in 1971
4) Major General Benjamin D. Foulois 1879 - 1967 First United States Military Aviator Inducted in 1980
The Wright Brothers Memorial in Kill Devil Hills is where the Wright Brothers went to test out their flyers. Because the islands had strong winds it was ideal for helping them generate the lift needed to get the plane off the ground.
The Site has reconstructed "hangars" as well as a monument on the top of a hill that can be seen from far off. There is a small museum with a replica Wright Flyer in it also.
There is a rail and monuments marking where the brothers launched and landed the flyer.
Back when the Wrights were here, the place looked like a desert. Now there are trees and grass. It's a great place to relive aviation history and reflect on how far it's come.
There is also an airport on-site if you want to fly in and visit. If you are driving, there is a decent sized parking lot to accomodate cars. The place was packed when we went but we were able to get a parking spot no problem.
What could be more beautiful and relaxing than watching the light fade over the ocean, hearing the surf on the beach, and keeping your feet warm by blazing fire? Theres not much to beat it. Fires are allowed on the beaches if they are properly watched and extinguished. A permit is needed on the northern shores around Nags Heads, but further down the coast at the National Seashore, you may fire at will. They just have to be below high tide line and buried when done. We had a great fire going the last night of our trip this summer. The beauty of it all was almost intoxicating. I could have slept under those stars, listening to the waves, toasting my marshmallows. I would say this is a must!
Even though my first time out on the waves was when the surf was pounding down and the water was 40 degrees, I had the time of my life! One of the surf shops that was open even in mid-March was Cavalier Surf Shop. The woman there was so nice and could tell we came a long way to swim in the ocean and we weren't letting freezing water stop us. She got us great suits to rent and boards that shot us over the water like canons. They were very laid back and flexible in when to get the boards back to them, since not many were renting this time of year. They are a stop to shop!