5 Fantastic Ways to Celebrate the Wright Brothers on the OBX
In honor of aviation history makers Orville and Wilbur Wright, we are highlighting some of the best ways to celebrate the Wright Brothers right here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The brothers began their flight research and experimentation in the late 1890s, and by the early 1900s they were in search of a location with steady winds, soft landings and plenty of privacy to put their ideas into practice. They found that perfect place right here on the OBX.
Follow in the footsteps of the Wright Brothers with these 5 fantastic ways to celebrate Wilbur and Orville on their journey in making aviation history. Here are the best ways to do it during your time on the Outer Banks.
1. Explore the towns of Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.
Spend time exploring the very land that brought the Wright Brothers to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Experience living aviation history in the towns of Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills during your visit or vacation time on the OBX. Though the region was a lot different at that point in time with a harsher and much more rustic environment, it provided what Orville and Wilbur needed for their test flights. Wide open spaces, constant winds and a soft place to land were paramount. Back then much of the Outer Banks was dominated by a chain of giant sand dunes, much like Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head is today. The dune where the Wrights made history was once one of these slowly migrating giant dunes, until the federal government acted to memorialize Orville and Wilbur's achievement here with a national park. By the time grass was planted to help stabilize the dune in the 1920s and the 60-foot granite monument was erected at the top, Big Kill Devil Hill had moved several hundred feet south over time, thanks to the natural process of those constant, prevailing OBX winds.
Today you can climb Big Kill Devil Hill for an awesome view of the area from sound to sea. The 60-foot pylon stands atop the hill, right on the site where Wilbur and Orville conducted their glider experiments—which leads us to #2 on our list....
2. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial & Monument in Kill Devil Hills.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial is the home to all things Wright Brothers on the OBX. Follow the Flight Line where the Wright Brothers took off and landed. Get a glimpse of what daily life was like in 1903 for Wilbur and Orville at the Reconstructed Camp Buildings. Of course the Wright Brothers Monument on Big Kill Devil Hill commemorates the historic achievements in aviation history. Last but not least, the Visitor Center is the perfect place to learn more about Orville and Wilbur while also viewing the 1902 glider and the 1903 flyer reproductions that give you a first-hand look at what they created.
(Please note that the Wright Brothers Visitor Center is currently closed for two projects—renovation of the building and installation of new exhibits. A temporary visitor center and museum store remain open until work on the main building is completed in 2018.)
3. Plan your OBX vacation around Aviation Day and Wright Brothers Day.
Did you know that there are two nationally observed days that are ideal times to plan a visit or vacation on the Outer Banks? There are! National Aviation Day occurs annually on August 19 and National Wright Brothers Day happens every December 17 (and rightly so!). What better way to incorporate a fascinating living history lesson into your OBX beach vacation? Both of these days are celebrated at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, so you can expect those days to be extra special during your visit.
Speaking of aviation celebrations, that brings us to #4 on our list...
4. Attend the annual Anniversary Celebration of the First Flight on the OBX.
An annual Anniversary Celebration of the Wright Brothers First Flight happens every December 17 (aka Wright Brothers Day) at the National Memorial. It's the 113th annual celebration this year, and there is a lot going on that day. Gather at the exact site at the exact time as the historic flight did back in the 1900s. At 8:30a.m. the observance begins with a patriotic musical prelude. At 9a.m. the formal program commemorates the Wrights’ achievement and pay tribute to this year’s inductee into the First Flight Society's Paul E. Garber First Flight Shrine. At 10:35a.m. an aviation fly-over pays tribute to the Wright brothers at the documented exact moment of the Wrights’ first flight. At 11a.m. there is the wreath-laying ceremony to honor the Wright brothers and the witnesses of the first flight at the exact spot where the famous first flight occurred. Throughout the day, the park's museum exhibits and activities provide interpretive talks in the Flight Room.
And best of all, admission to the Wright Brothers National Memorial is free on this special day and park admission fees are waived!
5. Follow Elan Vacations Outer Banks blog.
The Wright Brothers make a regular appearance on Elan Vacations blog roll. Follow us and we promise to keep you informed on all of the latest and greatest Wright Brothers news and events at the National Memorial and beyond. We'd suggest that you start by reading 25 Things You May Not Know About Wilbur and Orville Wright. You'll learn a few new things about the brothers Wright and some interesting lesser-known facts about their life and times.
Here are a few more Wright Brothers blog posts you may find informative and worth reading:
Have you explored aviation history on the Outer Banks with the Wright Brothers?