I promised that we’d go hang-gliding off the dunes of the Outer Banks, and sure enough we did! Before I tell all about our daredevil day, I’ll catch you up on the other sights so far.
We put another sticker on our travel map and added North Carolina to the mix of places we’ve now camped with the Lucy/Bitsy duo. A good 10 degrees cooler here with a wonderful sea breeze. When we arrived, we decided to take a drive to let the coach cool down. The drive netted me another stamp in my lighthouse book at Bodie (pronounced Body for those of you not from ’round here) Lighthouse.
Wright Brothers National Memorial
Day 2 in the Outbanks or OBX as they are referred to by the locals. This visit is all about flying so the Wright Brothers National Memorial was the logical next stop. Plus it is about 5 whole minutes from our campground.
You can’t help but be fascinated by the story of Orville & Wilbur Wright and their dogged determination to fly. I’m sure they were the true weirdos of their day, but it is amazing to think how far we’ve come in flight since their work began. Apparently these self-taught engineers determined that data at the time was flawed, so they built their own wind-tunnel to general their own lift data.
They went to Kitty Hawk, NC since if offered privacy, steady winds and wide open non-vegetative spaces. As we were told today, that last part really means there was a LOT of soft sand – a much more forgiving landing for their glider and eventual powered flights. They took 4 flights on December 17, 1903 that would change the world forever.
Pat poses in front of the monument and next to it is the view from up there. Waaay down at the end of the road pictured are markers for the start and ending of each of the 4 flights.
That first big rock marks the takeoff spot and the landing spots are down the trail – full of sandspurs I might add. We didn’t trek down there. Bronze statue replicas of the witnesses and Orville piloting the plane were great to put everything in size perspective. Next time you board that triple 7 going overseas, you can think about just where it all started.
Beginner Hang-Glider Lessons!
Yes, by golly we really did fly. Pat and I both got certificates stating that we “successfully flew a hang glider over the same sand, lifted by those same soft Atlantic breezes as the Wright Brothers, and completed the first lesson towards becoming a hang gliding pilot”. Ok, so I don’t think we’re going to really become hang-gliding pilots, but it was a spectacularly fun day.
Of course I have some pictures, but I’ll lead with Pat’s quote for the day. He describes the flight process this way. “You run like hell and when your face hits the sand, you know you are done”. His first “flight” involved bending one of the glider supports and some serious sand-burn. Is that a word? You know, rug-burn, but with sand.
I have to say – we looked darn good in our helmets and harnesses.
Pat in his hang check (you must do this every single time and results in sand in all the right places), then in his stance ready to run. Finally at the bottom of the hill and the instructor hauls the glider back up the dune.
I have to say that we did underestimate how physically taxing it would be. Trudging up that dune was not easy, but at least we didn’t have to carry the glider.
A total of 5 glides and we are truly pooped. We have both popped Advil for the aches and pains and plan to sleep well.
Tomorrow we bid NC adieu and will head to Williamsburg, VA. Can’t say I’ll have much to report for a few days since we likely will need some recovery time. But, holy cow, was it an awesome day! See you down the road.