The site of the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight is a pilgrimage for aviation buffs. To be able to fly yourself there makes the journey even more extraordinary. Mike was able to do just that in late September when we flew with his cousin Grant from Hampton Roads Executive Airport to the First Flight Airstrip (KFFA) in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. It’s an unattended 3000’ by 60’ asphalt runway carved out of thick forest. For Mike, who’s primary flight experience has been in flat, desert areas, seeing the runway was tricky. Grant pointed the way until Mike spotted it. Since there’s no light on the airstrip, it opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset.
KFFA is located at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. When you land, you’ll want to stop first at the Terminal Building and print out an official landing certificate to take with you. Then, take an hour or two to check out the Memorial.
The 60′ ft. granite monument leads the way to the extensive National Park which features well-manicured grounds with markers, both big and small, indicating the successful launching and landing points, a visitors’ center, and a cluster of museums and exhibits which celebrates the last century of flight and beyond. For a tutorial on all things aviation, from the first successful glide across the Kill Devil Hills sand dunes to the new breakthroughs from NASA, a trip to the Wright Brothers National Memorial is a must.
I found our trip to First Flight and the Memorial very moving. What the Wright Brothers started in 1903 has led to the amazing opportunities we have today to see the world in a unique way. Their efforts sparked a chain of events that, over a hundred years later, resulted in my husband taking us to the skies for aerial adventures. I will be forever grateful to the Wright Brothers for that gift.