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Road Trip: Back to the BeginningRoad Trip: Back to the Beginning

Visit the birthplace of powered flight


After several years of flying kites, then gliders, Orville and Wilbur Wright turned their attention to the matter of powered flight. They selected Kill Devil Hills, on North Carolina’s picturesque Outer Banks—not for its views but for its sustained fall and winter winds (and because they received a prompt reply to their query about conditions). Please note, the brothers’ first powered flight was not made from nearby Kitty Hawk, a village that had the nearest telegraph office. (The fact that the message home communicating their success was sent from there has confused historians for more than a century.)

At First Flight Airport (FFA), walking distance from the Wright Brothers National Memorial, AOPA provides a pilot facility with restricted access, offering restrooms, a pilot briefing room, and access to weather and flight-planning resources. If you need fuel or other services, Dare County Regional Airport (MQI) in Manteo is just across Roanoke Sound, a scant six nautical miles south. Whether you top off or stay overnight, the family will enjoy the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, an easy walk from the airport terminal.

For the most Wright-like experience, visit September through December; the brothers chose the Outer Banks for their consistent winds in those months. And there’s always a commemorative program on December 17, the anniversary of the Wrights’ most historic flight.

Why you should go: Interpretative tours are recommended and, if led by Outer Banks native Darrell Collins, they’re not to be missed.

Wright Brothers National Memorial
First Flight Society

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.

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