We invite you to celebrate National Aviation Day on Saturday, August 19, at two different locations in the Outer Banks: Wright Brothers National Memorial and Dare County Regional Airport! Join our friends at the National Park Service, the First Flight Society, and the First Flight Foundation to honor the achievements of the Wrights and how their legacy continues to change the world today.
Wright Brothers National Memorial
Wright Brothers National Memorial invites you to celebrate National Aviation Day with National Park Service rangers! In addition to free entrance for the day and a variety of ranger-led programs, the park will stay open late for a special viewing of Disney’s “Planes” on the lawn of the visitor center. Movie attendees should bring blankets and chairs to watch the movie under the stars. National Aviation Day was first proclaimed on August 19, 1939, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and coincides with Orville Wright’s birth date to celebrate the history and achievements of aviation in the United States. Plan to spend most of your visit outside and prepare for hot weather. For more information, see the detailed descriptions of activities and the schedule of events listed below.
Visitor Center and Flight Room: Open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Experience the immersive exhibits in the museum and see a replica of the 1903 Flyer in the famous Flight Room. A tactile model of the 1903 Flyer is also available in the Flight Room. Periodic demonstrations of the Flyer’s wing-warping design will take place throughout the day.
First Flight Junior Ranger: Pick up a junior ranger activity booklet from the visitor center to learn about the Wright brothers and their journey to fly. Upon completion of the activity booklet, you will be sworn-in as an official First Flight Junior Ranger and receive your very own junior ranger badge!
Radio Demonstrations: Join the Outer Banks Repeater Association by the airstrip to learn about the pioneering history of radio in the Outer Banks and maybe even send a message out into the airwaves.
Ranger-led Programs: Learn more about Wilbur and Orville’s journey to first flight and the legacy they left on aviation history. Programs are offered on the hour between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Wind & Sand: Step back in history during this short walk to the actual site of the Wrights’ first powered flights. Discover why the Wrights chose Kitty Hawk for their flight experiments and what life was like in the Outer Banks; learn about the events that led to the first powered flight on that cold December day, and the lasting impact their first flight continues to have on the world today. 10-10:30 a.m., 11-11:30 a.m., 1-1:30 p.m., 3-3:30 p.m.
- The Wright Legacy: Twelve seconds was all the Wright brothers needed on December 17, 1903, to show the world humans can fly. Those twelve seconds were just the start of aviation history and the Wright legacy. Explore the rest of the Wright story as you discover the impact that Wilbur and Orville had on history, the legacy they left behind, and how they are remembered in the world today. 12-12:30 p.m., 2-2:30 p.m.
Check at the visitor center for program topics and locations.
Special Evening Activities:
6:15 p.m.: The Wright Bike (45 minutes)
Go for a ride like the Wright brothers! Bring your bike and helmet and learn about why the Wright brothers chose this area in 1900 and how the site has changed over the years. Meet at the bicycle rack in front of the visitor center.
7:15 p.m.: Sunset Monument Walk (45 minutes)
Explore the story of the Wright brothers and see the sunset as you walk with a ranger to the top of Big Kill Devil Hill. The walk is a quarter of a mile each way. Bring water. Meet on the back patio of the visitor center.
8:15 p.m.: Outdoor Movie Presentation of Disney’s “Planes” (90 minutes)
The First Flight Foundation presents this special outdoor showing of Disney’s animated movie, “Planes.” Bring your own blankets and chairs to watch the movie under the stars!
Dare County Regional Airport
The mission of First Flight Society’s celebration is to provide a fun and educational experience promoting, honoring, and celebrating the accomplishments of the Wright brothers and helping educate the public about aviation. The event includes airplane displays, exhibitors, guest speakers, and food trucks, and is free and family friendly.
Location: Dare County Regional Airport
Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Kitty Hawk Kites
- Civil Air Patrol
- Military Aviation Museum
- Elizabeth City State University
- Dare County Radio Control Flyers
- Dare County
- Beach Gypsy Designs
- Larry Tise – “’Sterchens’: The Wright brothers and their sister Katharine” and “After Wilbur: Orville and Katharine”
- Tony Bruno – “Aviation history of the Outer Banks”
- Danny Couch – “Billy Mitchell – Father of the Air Force”