Somewhere offshore, a few miles south of where I am sitting, the Gulf Stream, a northward current of warm water, collides with the Labrador Current, a southward flow of cold water. That collision of currents creates rough waters, fog, storms, and more often than not, wind.
If you happened to be looking for a good place to test a glider, and you poured over meteorological records for the entire country, the Outer Banks would jump out at you. It jumped out at the Wright brothers, and of course Kill Devil Hills is where they came to test their glider.
The glider, as it turns out, didn’t really work. What put the Wright brothers in the air in the end, was partly the wing design they came up with, partly the wind the Outer Banks provided, but also, arguably mostly, the engine they built.
We headed over to the Wright Brothers Memorial one windy day and had a look at the dunes where they worked, and eventually, flew. The rebuilt plane is in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, but there’s a life size model here, and some parts of the engine (which was also destroyed at some point).
To me one of the most interesting parts of the memorial, after the engine, was learning that iconic photo below was shot by John T Daniels, a member of the local life saving station who had never taken a photograph before in his life. Local legend says he never took another. Quit while you’re ahead I guess, because with no experience and only one shot to get it right, Daniels nailed it.
We’ve also enjoyed spending the occasional cold day at the North Carolina aquariums, which aren’t huge, but have a enough to keep the kids entertained on a stormy afternoon. The one here has a couple things the one we visited in Pine Knoll Shores did not, like a tiger shark and an albino crocodile.
Just in case you didn’t get the title, here’s the full joke Corrinne made up: What did Matthew McConaughey say when he got to Kill Devil Hills?