Hang gliding business started in an old garage


On March 31, Kitty Hawk Kites announced that Kitty Hawk Sports, an Outer Banks icon that began in 1981 but traces its roots even further into the past, would henceforth be known as Kitty Hawk Surf Co.

I was thinking about how to report the story when local marketing guru Kathy Sparrow sent an e-mail noting the "end of an era.” It was a great idea and a chance to capture some of the history of two businesses tied together by two men and one important geographic feature — Jockey’s Ridge.

We start with two men who came of age in the 1960s, a transformative time in our culture.

John Harris and Ralph Buxton are engineers by training. They became friends in California during their college years. They didn’t attend the same schools but worked for the same cooperatives.

They shared other interests. While part of the country became enamored with the British invasion and the changes associated with music, dress and social norms, a home-grown culture was emerging on the West Coast.

It began with surfing...

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Hang gliding business