Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Day 21: Up to Kitty Hawk

Note: Yesterday's post has been updated with additional photos now that the technical glitches have been solved.

We got up and left the Ocracoke campsite without a bracing cold shower. The day dawned kinda nice and stayed that way most of the day; it was the first sun we had seen in a week. The road north up Ocracoke and Hattaras Islands was occasionally at risk of closure due to drifting sand. In fact, there were graders stationed strategically along the way.
North of Ocracoke 
North of Cape Hattaras
We had to hop a short free ferry between the two islands.
One ferry leaves 
Another on the route
The channel between the islands silts up a lot. Apparently, one of the ferries ran aground a few weeks ago, and the service was shut for a ~10 days. They dredge the boat's route here. A lot.
The US Army Corps of Engineers hard at work
We pulled into Hattaras...
Beach houses line the port
...and went to vist (and climb) the Cape Hattaras lighthouse.
Famous barber pole striping 
210'. 12 stories. 8 landings. Hot. Humid.
The view from the top of the Graveyard of the Atlantic was great because, for the first time in days, it was clear.
Looking south. The lake was caused by a hurricane 2 years ago.
We stopped at a couple of places (including a maritime artifact museum that had a recovered WW2 German Enigma machine) but basically made a beeline for Kitty Hawk. Here, sitting on the hill where the Wright brothers tested their first hang gliders in 1901 & 1902...
Kill Devil Hills
...is their monument...
...and from the monument, a view of where in December 1903, they flew for the very first time. Four flights, one day.
The famous first airstrip. The hangers are replicas in the original spots
They used a rail and took off from the rock. The first flight landed 120' later at the first marker. The second at the second marker. The third at the third, and the fourth WAY down (890' down) at the fourth. Where they promptly crashed their airplane, and it was never to fly again.
From the rock. A rail is visible.
The ends.
Looking back
There's a replica of the airplane in the museum there (I hope to see the real one tomorrow. It's in the Smithsonian here where I am writing this in Washington).
The rocks are out the window
There's a metal sculpture there, that replicates the first take off.
Nicely done
And there's a little plaque on the wall of the museum. I never knew that a piece of the fabric from the wing, plus a bit of wood from the spar of the original 1903 Wright Flyer airplane actually went to the moon with Neil Armstrong in 1969.
How far aviation came in 66 years
Maybe it's because I'm a pilot (or I used to be), but I found the Wright Brothers memorial a really cool place.

There's a lot of sand at Kill Devil Hills. Including the largest sand dune on the east coast of the US, between 80'-100' high and in constant motion.
Note the little specks of people on the upper right
They fly hang gliders on these dunes, and you can take lessons.
Nice place to fly
Or you can just go dune jumping...
KC, mid leap
...or downhill dune running.
Yours truly, acting silly
Next: we press on to see American History.

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