Every once in a while the wind sinks to dead calm on the Outer Banks, but that’s really the exception.
The wind was the reason that the Wright Brothers came to the here to fly first their kite, followed by their gliders, and finally the Wright Flyer. It’s also the reason why the oldest hang gliding school in the world is at Kitty Hawk Kites, and why this area is one of the best places to fly a kite.
Here are some suggestions for places to send a kite into the sky:
Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head
It would be harder to come up with a better place to fly a kite than this. Jockey’s Ridge is a truly world-class site for kite flying.
The large sand dune and highest point on the Outer Banks, Jockey’s Ridge varies in height from 80-110’ depending on wind conditions and the season. There is nothing to block the air and there is almost always a breeze. Even better, for kite flying here, the wind direction doesn’t matter.
The Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Roanoke Sound to the west are clearly seen from the top—an amazing, spectacular view.
In the summer, sandals or shoes are a must. The sand gets hot enough to burn the soles of unprotected feet. Sunscreen and water is a good idea as well!
Whalehead Club, Corolla
The wide, open lawn of the Whalehead Club is almost as good a location for kite flying as Jockey’s Ridge. The setting, with the Currituck Sound and Whalehead Club as a backdrop is exquisite, and the nearby Currituck Lighthouse sits nearby.
Unlike Jockey’s Ridge, however, there are windbreaks that will disrupt the wind and make kite flying difficult. In most cases, though, that’s just a temporary set back; there is enough open space on the lawn that there is almost always good conditions for flying a kite.
Wright Brothers Memorial, Kill Devil Hills
Flying a kite at the first place the Wright Brothers first flew an airplane…how cool is that?
Although the grounds are a wide, flat expanse with almost nothing to break up the wind, the Wright Brothers Memorial is not quite on par with Jockey’s Ridge or the Whalehead Club as a kite flyer’s dream.
It is still a very good location, but there are a couple of things working against it to create the ideal situation.
There is a maritime forest that has taken root on the western border of the Memorial. Coupled with the buildings that makeup Kill Devil Hills, add in the fact that it is neither directly on the water nor elevated, and the result is good conditions, but not excellent.
It should be noted that when the Wright Brothers were coming to Kill Devil Hills between 1900 and 1903, they were flying from a series of sand dunes that no longer exists and neither the maritime forest nor buildings of Kill Devil Hills were there.
The Beach, Outer Banks
Flying a kite on the beach is something everyone should experience. There is the sound of the waves, the sight of the surf rolling in, and a kite in the sky, soaring and dipping in the wind.
It’s important to note that because of the dunes that line the beach and the structures that have been built on the ocean front, west and southwest winds are largely blocked, making flying a kite in the summer difficult—those are the predominant winds at that time of the year.
Don’t be discouraged though. Every once in a while the weather gods smile upon kite flyers and shift the winds just enough to the south or south south east to give kite flyers the gift of flying on the beach.