Today we went to the Wright Brothers National Memorial Park. It has the flat site of the first powered flights and a hill, with a large monument, that was used to test their design with gliders. It is not located at Kitty Hawk but at the village of Kill Devil Hills, just next door. I guess Kitty Hawk sounds like a better place name to commemorate the flights.
There is really not a whole lot to do here. We listened to a ranger talk about the brothers. Then we walked out to the first flight site with markers showing each flight. Then to the top of Kill Devil Hill to look at the monument. And finally down behind the hill to a set of statues of the flyer, the brothers and the men helping them.
Also, they are building a new visitor’s center, which doesn’t open until next year. There was just a temporary building to hold, of course, a gift shop. This meant that a lot of the exhibits were not available.
Here is a picture of the flight line I took from the hill later.
There were 4 flights that first day. Three were rather short, maxing out at about 200 feet. The fourth was quite a jump to 800 feet. Then they crashed and could not do anymore that day.
The two building are reconstructions of the living quarters and the hanger they used during the three summers they were here.
The big block is the start of each flight and has the rail they used to launch the flyer on the sand.
Everybody seems to be compelled to walk down to each flight marker.
So we did.
Flight one, Orville went 120 feet
Flight two, Wilbur went 175 feet.
Flight 3, Orville’s turn to go 200 feet.
And finally flight 4, Wilbur went 852 feet. They never went more than about 12 feet high, in case they crashed.
Back we go.
To head up the hill to the monument.
The powered flight happened in 1903. In the two previous summers they tested their design using gliders to get a controllable airframe. The ranger said they did over 1000 test flights, hauling the glider up the hill each time. A group of locals came out to help as there was no way they could do it themselves.
Up we go.
I asked a ranger why the front of the monument actually faces away from the flight line. She said it was because the entrance to the park used to be down at this end.
The front view.
And a photosphere. A bit better but still rather chopped up. I think to do it properly you are supposed to mount the phone on a tripod and then rotate it around so the pictures are all from the same exact physical location.
There is a door in the monument because at one time it use to house the visitor’s center. I wonder if you could climb to the top?
Me and my pals.
A wide shot back to the flight line, overlooking the village of Kill Devil Hills and the Kitty Hawk in the distance.
We sat on the edge and had lunch.
Jennie saw this moth so had to take a picture.
The statutes of the first flight are down the hill behind the monument (or in front from the monuments perspective).
We headed back to the car to drive over there. It was getting hot.
Another group was getting a talk at the hanger but it was the same one we had heard back at the visitor’s center. This is actually one of the busiest places we have been to yet.
You are allowed to climb on the flyer so of course I did.
Me again, with some of the locals that helped out. Most were from the life saving service station that was nearby. Very strong men.
And we were done. We drove back along the coastal road to get home. I decided to stop and check out Jeanette’s Fishing Pier.
In the parking lot I saw this car. I guess they were living out of it. I couldn’t believe how stuffed it was.
Out to the pier. It is run by the state parks department. In the building is a small aquarium and some information boards. It is mainly about the fishing though.
The edge was lined with benches, each with a cutting board along the top so you could clean your fish.
They charge $12 a day to fish here. It was $2 to just walk around.
We saw a few people catch some small fish, like this puffer. I guess the reason we kept seeing the puffers on the beach is that a fisherman would catch one and then not throw it back.
These guys caught a ray. We didn’t want to watch them trying to get the hook out.
We picked a bench to stop and have our afternoon snack.
There were some porpoises (not sharks) cruising off the beach.
There are only a few hotels here. It is mostly rental homes. The beach looked kind of busy when you looked straight down it but from the pier you could see that people had a lot of space.
Jennie couldn’t resist grabbing a few shells and then we headed home.