The Wright Brothers’ Legacy on the Outer Banks

The twelve seconds that changed the world.

The Wright Brothers Outer Banks famous flight, the twelve seconds that changed the world, took place in Kill Devil Hills on December 17, 1903. This year marks the 120th anniversary of powered flight.

As the birthplace of aviation, we’d like to offer up our ideas on what a great week might look like on the Outer Banks if you’re a fan of the history of flight. Let’s start with some history of our two most famous visitors to the area–Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Fun Facts About The Wright Brothers & Kitty Hawk

With a significant portion of Outer Banks’ history connected to the Wright Brothers, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about and celebrate their famous flight. The Wright Brothers Memorial and visitor’s center are open for exploration year-round. There are also annual special events held each year on the anniversary of that first monumental flight.

Wright Brothers Glider Assembly Kitty Hawk
  • The Wright Brothers arrived on the Outer Banks in 1900 with confidence, perseverance and the wild idea of flying through the air.
  • Wilbur and Orville did their flight research at home in Ohio, but a location with ideal conditions was needed to conduct their flying experiments.
  • After much discussion, Kitty Hawk was chosen due to its consistent wind and high sand dunes with little vegetation.
  • Kitty Hawk’s proximity to the Kill Devil Hills’ large sand dunes also contributed to the location choice.
  • The tall Kill Devil Hills dunes were the perfect place for the Wright Brothers to test out their flyers.
  • With the location agreed upon, Orville and Wilbur shipped their gear from Ohio to the Outer Banks and assembled their experimental glider on site in Kitty Hawk.
  • The glider assembly site is memorialized by a modest marker off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood in Kitty Hawk.

The Wright Brothers Memorial

Address: 1000 North Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, 7 days per week


The Wright Brothers museum fee for adults 16 years and older is $10 per day, for the entire week after the date of purchase (seven consecutive days from the purchase date). Children 15 years and younger can enjoy free admission to the Wright Brothers visitor center. 

For more information on the memorial’s hours and fees, visit the National Park Service website.

The Wright Brothers Memorial is a towering, 60-foot tall granite structure that sits at the top of the hill where the famous brothers flew their glider for the first time. Walking to the top of the hill to check out the memorial up close is a must. In addition to seeing the larger-than-it-appears memorial, you are treated to an impressive bird’s eye ocean to sound view of Kill Devil Hills. At the bottom of the hill is a life-size sculpture of the first flight, including the glider and the Wright Brothers.

wright brothers museum

The Wright Brothers Museum

Address: 1000 North Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, 7 days per week

Fee: $10 for adults, free for children


The Wright Brothers museum Kitty Hawk is actually located in Kill Devil Hills. There are many indoor and outdoor exhibits, including markers of where the initial flights landed. The recently renovated visitor’s center includes new exhibits, including 1903-reconstructed quarters, workshop, and hanger, as well as a gift shop and bookstore. 

Anniversary of the First Flight!

Date: December 17th

Address: 1000 North Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Fee: Admission is free!


Join the First Flight Society in celebrating Wright Brothers Day each year on December 17th! Attend the annual celebration at the Wright Brothers Museum and Visitors Center. Enjoy a number of special guests and exciting activities throughout the day commemorating the anniversary of the first flight. If you want to get involved in supporting the celebration, don’t forget the First Flight Society as they hold events all year long.

Wright Brothers Memorial Flyover
Kill Devil Hills Lifesaving Station

Imagine the Possibilities


We hope you’ll have enjoyed some time thinking about the persistence and imagination of the two amateurs from Ohio who changed the world in 12 seconds. There’s a strong connection with the Wright Brothers Kill Devil Hills Life Saving Station. The restored Kill Devil Hills Life Saving Station, now located in Corolla, is home to a flight museum and has authentic links to the Wright Brothers during their time on the beach.


Feeling captivated? Head over to Island Bookstore in either Duck or Corolla and pick up a book on the Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk, including David McCullough’s wonderful biography. If you want to think about how far we’ve come in 120 years, on your way back home pull off the road for a bit at the super-cool NASA Hampton facility and think about what’s possible in the next 120 years.

Courtney Wisecarver

Courtney Wisecarver
















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