Off this earth and to the moon?
Trip Start Mar 23, 2009
27Trip End Jul 23, 2009
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We camped near Elizabeth City on the mainland for an easy drive to Kitty Hawk on the banks, a journey impossible for the Wright brothers as there was no bridge and they had to sail from the then busy port of Elizabeth City to the place picked for their flight experiments due to a pretty constant wind. They took all materials and provisions with them and set up their camp on Kill Devil Hills, this is now a national park: http://www.nps.gov/wrbr/index.htm
The four year story of these two brothers from Dayton Ohio in their ambition to master powered flight is well documented and you can find many pages by "Googleing" so here's my take on a day out to visit the site.
Our journey was about 50 miles which included the bridge of about 3 miles in length to cross to the outer banks.
First stop for us though was the visitors information centre as we intend to eventually travel the length of the outer banks. Just behind this centre is a memorial commemorating 100 years of flight and even more interesting to find that one of these flight milestones took place during the month and year of my birth (check the pictures).
Just on through Kitty Hawk we arrived at the Wright Brothers National Memorial Park on Kill Devil Hills, the place they had been advised as having some of the most consistent winds in the country and long stretches of soft level sand, essential for landing. First off they experimented with gliders from the hilltop in order to learn how to control flight. Atop of this hill is now the stone monument that commemorates the hundreds of glider flights they did preceding that first powered flight.
We wandered over to this sculpture again trying to imagine being back in time - not too easy when there are people all around having driven down possibly after a flight in a modern jet from another country, slightly further than that first 12 second 120 feet flight. By the end of that day they had achieved four flights, the last being a grand length of 852 feet in 59 seconds. This opened up Pandora's box - flight developed quickly especially with the impetus of two world wars and within only 66 years we had put a man on the moon (or so we are told).
In the visitor's centre they have replicas of the glider and the flyer (the actual one broke up on that last flight, however it is restored and now in the Smithsonian, Washington DC). To achieve powered flight they even had to build their own engine as none was available light enough with enough power. We listened to a very informative talk about the brothers time at Kill Devil Hills and yet again I found myself drifting back in time (Betsy thought I was falling asleep!).
We had to go, they close at 5pm and we had only been here for the last 5 hours - think they must have experimented with time travel too and you can still loose time easily in this place.
We finished off our first day on the banks with a quick visit to a sand dune: Jockey Ridge Park http://www.jockeysridgestatepark.com/ rather fitting that there is a hang gliding school here.
Where I stayed
North River Campground