Summer weather is here to stay on the OBX! Today’s high temperature is 80 degrees, the wind is blowing out of the south, the sun is out. Even better, the sun will be up longer and longer each day. Today’s sunrise was at 6:09 am, and the sun won’t set until 7:50 pm this evening. That means more daylight to experience your favorite Outer Banks activities! More time for surfing and swimming, sunbathing and shell-hunting, fishing and sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding, and our favorite OBX
OBX Airplanes offers air tours and biplane rides over the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks. Our friendly, experienced pilots are knowledgeable about the local area and will be happy to answer any questions you have while up in the air. Our air tours are fully customizable; we create the perfect flying experience for you and your friends and family, whether that be a scenic sunset air tour in a Cessna or an exhilarating acrobatic flight in our Waco biplane.
Take advantage of these long days and this beautiful summer weather by flying with OBX Airplanes!
Nags Head Beach Nourishment
You will notice quite a bit of activity on the beach this summer in Nags Head. The town of Nags Head is conducting a beach nourishment project that will last the duration of the summer. The project has already begun south of the Limulus beach access in South Nags Head with the dredge Ellis Island pumping sand onto the beach. Work will continue south to the town / National Park Service line at Ramp 1. Operations will then pick up near Pelican Street and move north to the Outer Banks Fishing Pier and then on to Jennette’s Pier.
A second dredge, Liberty, will begin pumping sand through a second submerged pipeline that is installed between Conch Street and Hallowell Street. Nourishment is scheduled to progress north to milepost 11 and then return to the Conch / Hallowell area and move south to Jennette’s Pier.
It will be interesting to see this project underway from the point of view of an airplane! OBX Airplanes’ air tours and biplane rides can fly over the nourishment area to check out the dredges and heavy equipment moving tons of sand to protect our beaches from erosion. Again, our air tours are customizable, so where we fly is up to you!
If you want to take a closer look at the nourishment project from the air, we will be happy to fly you over the beaches of Nags Head before heading on to the iconic landmarks of the Outer Banks like the Wright Brothers National Memorial and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
OBX Airplanes: The #1 Outdoor Activity in Manteo on Trip Advisor
OBX Airplanes is happy to be ranked as the number one outdoor activity in Manteo according to Trip Advisor! We take pride in providing our customers with a fun, exciting and memorable flying experience. If you’ve ever thought of flying (whether you’re interested in a scenic air tour or thrilling biplane ride over the Outer Banks, or you want to take flight lessons with one of our experienced instructors) we encourage you to check out our page on Trip Advisor to see what other happy customers have to say.
OBX Airplanes has a 5-star rating with over four hundred reviews. To give you an idea of what people thought of their flights with OBX Airplanes, here are some excerpts from our most recent Trip Advisor reviews:
“Affordable, fun, and exciting way to see the sights in Outer Banks
I went on the 30-40 minute Inlet tour with my brother and nephew last week when we were in Outer Banks. The pilot was very professional, friendly and accommodating. He dropped down to a lower altitude when we got near the beach house we were renting so we could see our family who was out on the beach waving to us. He was also very knowledgeable about the area, and it was amazing seeing all of the sights from the air. The price was very fair since it & for up to 3 people. We all had a great time and would definitely do it again!”
“Bucket List Experience
A fabulous 30 minute adventure in an open air cockpit! The pilot was good natured and extremely pleasant. Time was made available for any who wanted to take pictures.”
Great views and a phenomenal pilot. We had a great time up in the air and would definitely fly again”
“Wow! Easy and fun!
It was a spur of the moment decision- but worked out great. We saw the ad on a billboard driving to the OBX. It only took a few minutes and we were set! Our pilot, Luke, was awesome. He offered insight to becoming a pilot to our kids. An economical and fun adventure- well worth it!”
I’m currently taking flight school at OBX and I’m having a great time. My instructor is very knowledgeable and very patient. I absolutely recommend OBX Airplanes!!!”
We did the 20 minute flight with the family. The pilot was very friendly and knowledgeable. It was very neat to see Nags Head and the ocean from the air. We will definitely do it again with a longer flight next time we are in the area.”
As a very experienced student pilot, while vacationing with family at the Outer Banks, my wife and I inquired about renting a Cessna 172 and instructor for a couple hours to mix sightseeing with training. We were introduce[d] to John at OBX and had the most wonderful adventure of flying and sightseeing from Dare, to First Flight, to Hatteras, to Ocracoke and back. John couldn't have been more gracious and encouraging, while exhibiting is wealth of local history on our journey. What a magical sunset adventure, and unforgettable day. Perfect weather, good company, and my wife took many wonderful stills and videos that we can enjoy over and over
again. Thank You OBX, and staff, and John for helping us make our dreams come true! Jim and Nan.”
If these glowing reviews aren’t enough to convince you to come fly with us, there are literally hundreds more 5-star reviews of OBX Airplanes that you can read on Trip Advisor. Come fly with us and we’re sure to get one more!
Spring has arrived on the Outer Banks! The air and ocean are warming, and masses of vacationers are coming to visit our beautiful beaches. Now on any nice day, the beach access parking lots will be full, and thousands of people will be enjoying the sun, sand and water along the OBX coast. When they aren’t on the beach, these visitors will be dining and drinking at local Outer Banks restaurants and bars, shopping at local Outer Banks shops, and booking tours and activities with local Outer Banks companies.
Banner Towing: Reach Future Customers on the Beach
To attract the attention of vacationers, local businesses spend a substantial amount of money on various advertising and marketing methods: online ads, magazine ads, rack cards, billboards, radio advertisements. However, there is another approach to reaching future customers while they are actually sitting on the sand or floating in the ocean: aerial banner towing. OBX Airplanes offers commercial banner towing services at rates at least 25% lower than nationwide towing companies. We use crisp, highly visible lettering to ensure that your message is seen by the many people on the beach and in the ocean. Aerial banner towing may be a slightly outside-the-box approach to advertising, but when you consider the vast number of people that will be exposed to your message, the efficacy of the method is clear.
Looking for Exciting Activities on the Outer Banks? Take to the Sky with OBX Airplanes!
While people love soaking up the sun on the beach and swimming in the ocean when they visit the Outer Banks, there are many other exciting activities to be enjoyed on your vacation. Most people will think of water activities like sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and surfing, but OBX Airplanes has another suggestion: take to the sky above the Outer Banks on an air tour or biplane ride!
Our air tours and biplane rides are the most exciting and memorable OBX adventure you can have while on your vacation. Our pilots are skilled, experienced, friendly and knowledgeable. Our air tours and biplane rides are an affordable activity for the whole family. You can take off in one of our Cessna airplanes for only $15 dollars a person!
Book online or call us at 252-473-2442 to book your air tour or biplane ride today!
This week’s OBX Airplanes blog will continue our series on the Wright Brothers. In the past weeks, we have written about how Wilbur and Orville Wright came to be fascinated with flight and started to experiment with aviation. If you haven’t seen them already, look back at these blog posts for an interesting read.
The Wright brothers first came to Kitty Hawk in the fall of 1900 to test their prototype glider. The first tests were unmanned; the brothers flew the glider like a kite and tested their patented wing-warping technique with chords attached to the wings.
The Wright brothers conducted the manned flights that year (and for the next three years) on a group of 100-foot-tall sand dunes known as the Kill Devil Hills. The few flights that Wilbur made in 1900 showed the brothers that their glider needed some improvements. The glider had less lift than they had expected, but they were optimistic on their return to Ohio because they hadn’t had any accidents and their forward elevator seemed to work.
The next year they returned with a new and improved glider but were once again disappointed by its lack of lift. Although they were disheartened at first, the Wright brothers redoubled their efforts when they returned to Ohio.
After their disappointing 1901 glider tests in Kitty Hawk the wright brothers began their thorough testing of airfoils. They built their wind tunnel in the bicycle shop and tested over 200 airfoils. The data they collected from these experiments led them to employ a higher aspect ratio on the wings of their next glider. In other words, the wings were longer and narrower, and this provided a much better lift-to-drag ratio. Another Improvement in the design of the 1902 glider was the addition of a vertical tail rudder.
All the testing paid off. From the start, the 1902 glider demonstrated much better lift and was able to fly far greater distances. Between September 19 and October 24, 1902, the Wright brothers made nearly 1,000 glides. During this time, they developed a moveable vertical rudder to replace the glider’s fixed vertical rudder. Their first flight with the moveable rudder was on October 8th. Using the new three-axis control, the Wright brothers made hundreds of well controlled flights and became convinced that they were ready to add power to their glider.
The Wright Brothers “Flying Machine”
The Wright Brothers applied for a patent to their new “Flying Machine” on March 23, 1902. They built it out of spruce and muslin and hand carved the propellers themselves. Their bicycle shop mechanic, Charlie Taylor, built the engine in only six weeks.
On December 17, 1903 the Wright Brothers made history in Kitty Hawk by flying the world’s first successful airplane. With these flights, the Outer Banks became forever tied to the history of aviation.
OBX Airplanes Air Tours
OBX Airplanes encourages visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial to more fully appreciate the Wright Brothers’ achievements. We also suggest flying over the monument with OBX Airplanes in one of our air tours or biplane rides!
Here you can see the difference between the 1901 and 1902 gliders. Note the improved aspect ratio and the addition of a vertical tail rudder on the 1902 glider (right).
April is the perfect month to take to the air over the Outer Banks! The sun is out, the air is warmer, the days are longer. An air tour is one of the best ways to take advantage of the beautiful weather on the coast of North Carolina. OBX Airplanes provides a variety of air tours that will fly you over the most iconic and beautiful locations on the Outer Banks.
We offer flights in our Cessna aircraft for groups of up to three passengers. With its high wings and panoramic windows, the Cessna is a great plane from which to view the sights along our coastline. Fly over lighthouses, bridges, and piers. See Jockey’s Ridge State Park and the Wright Brothers National Memorial from the air. If the water is clear, we can show you shipwrecks that were lost to the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic.’
We will customize your air tour to meet your needs and interests. If you are a photographer looking to capture images of the most iconic sights on the Outer Banks, we can circle The Wright Brothers National Memorial and then fly down to the Cape to shoot the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. If you are looking for ideal lighting, we can take off in time for a sunrise or sunset air tour.
Biplane Rides: A True OBX Adventure
For the ultimate Outer Banks adventure, take to the sky in our beautiful red Waco Biplane! Our Waco YMF-5C is a true classic. It does exactly what the manufacturer set out to do: “to revive the Golden Era’s open cockpit flying experience.”
A biplane ride is our most thrilling air tour option. While all of our air tours are exciting, taking off in our Waco biplane will be the start of a real Outer Banks adventure. You will feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair; you will smell the salt air. You will feel the power of the Jacobs R-755 Radial Engine as you soar over the Atlantic Ocean.
It is Springtime on the Outer Banks and we are excited to welcome visitors back to our beaches. If you are looking for something unique and exciting to do this Spring break or Easter vacation let OBX Airplanes take you on an air tour or biplane ride. We promise, it will be an unforgettable experience!
The mid-1890s saw growing interest and excitement in the world of aviation. In Germany, Otto
Lilienthal, or the “flying man” as he was known around the world, was making repeated successful
flights with his gliders. His flights were well documented by reporters and photographers. Magazines
and newspapers world-wide published accounts and photographs of his feats. The Wright brothers saw
these articles and were encouraged by Lilienthal’s success. According to Wilbur, "Lilienthal was without
question the greatest of the precursors, and the world owes to him a great debt." Unfortunately,
Lilienthal was killed when his glider stalled and plummeted to the ground. The Wright brothers,
nevertheless, saw the potential for manned flight.
In 1896 (the same year as Otto Lilienthal’s death) Samuel Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian
Institution, successfully flew a steam-powered, fixed-wing, unmanned model aircraft. Later that same
year several aviation enthusiasts, under the guidance of Chicago engineer Octave Chanute, gathered on
the sand dunes at the shore of Lake Michigan where they tested multiple gliders. In 1899, Wilbur wrote
to the Smithsonian to request information and publications about aeronautics.
After much experimentation, first with airfoils fixed to a bicycle and then with airfoils in their custom-
made wind tunnel, the Wright brothers took the next step towards their goal of manned, powered
flight: building and flying full sized gliders.
Learning from the Birds: Wing Warping and Pilot Control
One of the factors that set the Wright brothers apart from others who were also after the dream of
manned, powered flight was their focus on pilot control. Other aviation enthusiasts were of the mindset
that attaching powerful engines to stable aircraft was the way forward, but the Wright Brothers took a
different approach. Wilbur and Orville believed that the ability of the pilot to control the aircraft and to
make subtle adjustments was paramount to the success of their aircraft. With this mindset, Wilbur and
Orville decided to master the art of flying their gliders before they moved to powered flight.
The Wright brothers believed that pilot control would ultimately lead them to solve the three-pronged
problem that they called “the flying problem.” In their minds, there was sufficient knowledge about the
other two parts of the problem, wings and engines, but the ability to actually fly the aircraft was lacking.
Glider pilots before the Wright brothers had relied on shifting their own body weight to alter the course
of their aircraft. The brothers, however, did not think this provided adequate control. Instead they
developed a system based on their observation of the flight of birds. Birds, they noticed, changed the
angle of the ends of their wings in order to bank into a turn. The problem then became ‘how to
accomplish this with a man-made wing of wood and cloth.’
One day, according to biographer James Tobin, Wilbur was idly twisting an inner-tube at the bicycle
shop while thinking of “the flying problem.” In that moment he came up with the idea of ‘wing warping,’
which the Wright brothers patented and used in their aircraft. The idea was to twist the wings so that
one end created more lift and the other less lift. The aircraft would roll laterally and turn towards the
direction of the dipping wing.
To Kitty Hawk: The Wright Brothers Take Flight
The first experiment with wing warping was conducted using a biplane kite with a five-foot wing span.
Wilbur attached four lines to the kite and was able to control the twist of the wings. His theory proved
right. He was able to cause the kite to turn using his wing warping technique.
Wilbur wrote a letter to Octave Chanute to inquire about optimal locations for glider testing. One of
Chanute’s suggestions (in addition to Florida and California) was the mid-Atlantic coast with its often-
windy conditions and sandy, soft landings. Wilbur and Orville also looked at U.S. Weather Bureau data
and decided to come to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to test their gliders.
We will continue our series on the Wright brothers in the next OBX Airplanes blog. Remember, we offer
air tours that circle the famous site of the Wright brothers’ first flights. Call us today to book a flight
around the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
If you ask us, OBX Airplanes is very lucky. Every day we get to fly over the location where the first
controlled flights of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft took place. Every day that we fly over the
Wright Brothers National Memorial we are reminded of how aviation as we know it began. When we fly
over the monument in one of our Cessna aircraft or our Waco biplane, we can’t help but think about
how far we have come in just over a century.
The previous OBX Airplanes blog touched on the Wright Brothers National Memorial and on the first
flights that Wilbur and Orville made on December 17 th , 1903. The next blogs will take a more detailed
look at how the Wright brothers developed and accomplished their dream of flying.
Early Career: Newspapers and Bicycles
Neither Wilbur nor his younger brother Orville graduated from high school. After he had completed four
years of high school, but before he could receive his diploma, Wilbur’s family moved suddenly from
Richmond, Indiana to Dayton, Ohio. Moves of this nature were not unusual for the Wright Brothers. As a
bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, their father Milton moved his family two dozen
times before settling finally in Dayton in 1884.
In 1889 Orville, having already designed and built a printing press with his brother’s help, dropped out of
school and opened his own printing business. Soon Wilbur would join his brother’s print shop. In March
of that year they began a weekly newspaper called the West Side News. Orville acted as publisher,
Wilbur as editor. In April 1890 they converted the paper into a daily called The Evening Item. It lasted
only four months. They turned their attention to commercial printing after the failure of their daily
newspaper, but this too would prove short lived.
In December 1892 the Wright brothers opened a bicycle repair, rental and retail shop called the Wright
Cycle Exchange (later the Wright Cycle Company). The company would grow and transition to six
different locations in Dayton. By 1896 Wilbur and Orville were manufacturing and selling bicycles of
their own design. The success of their bicycle business allowed them to focus energy and money on their
true passion: aviation
Experimenting with Airfoils
The Wright brothers’ interest aviation began in 1878 when their father brought them home a toy
helicopter. The toy was made of paper, bamboo and cork. It used a rubber band to twirl the rotor. The
boys played with the toy helicopter until it broke, and then they built their own.
Even as they grew older, the Wright brothers held on to their childhood curiosity and enthusiasm. At the
bicycle shop, the brothers were becoming more and more absorbed with aviation. Wilbur wrote to the
Smithsonian to request information and publications about aeronautics. Then the brothers began
playing with airfoils. They attached a third wheel horizontally above the front wheel of one of their St.
Claire bicycles (which they had designed and manufactured). This third wheel acted as a platform on
which to mount airfoils. They could then ride the bike with the airfoil situated just in front of the handle
bars. This allowed them to literally feel how the air flowed over and around the foil and to see how the
foil would respond.
The next step was to build a six-foot wind tunnel on the second floor of their bicycle shop. Between
October and December of 1901, they tested over 200 different shapes of scale-model wings. These
tests, according to Wright brothers’ biographer Fred Howard, "were the most crucial and fruitful
aeronautical experiments ever conducted in so short a time with so few materials and at so little expense." The experiments would certainly pay off down the road…
Check out the next OBX Airplanes blog to learn how the Wright brothers went from experimenting with
a wind tunnel in a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio to flying gliders off sand dunes in Kitty Hawk, North
A Wright Cycle Company Bicycle at the National Air and Space Museum
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills is a 60-foot tall granite monument to the first
controlled flights of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft and to Wilbur and Orville Wright, the two
brothers who accomplished these history-altering achievements. The monument sits atop 90-foot hill,
and so rises 150 feet above the Ocean. A marine beacon shines from the top of the monument to guide
mariners along the coast of the Outer Banks. Inscribed at the base of the monument is the following
phrase: "In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright
conceived by genius achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith."
Captain William H. Kindervater of the Quartermaster Corps was selected to prepare the site for
construction. He planted and fertilized Bermuda grass to secure the sandy foundation on which the
monument was to be built. Construction began in October of 1931 and was completed in November of
the following year. Orville Wright was in attendance for the dedication on November 13th , 1932 as were
approximately 1,000 others who braved the stormy, windy fall day on the Outer Banks. Sadly, Wilbur
had died twenty years earlier in 1912.
The First Flights on the Outer Banks
On December 14th , 1903 Wilbur (who had won the coin toss determining which brother would control
their Wright Flyer I) took off for the first time from a sandy dune on the Outer Banks. This first flight
ended abruptly when the aircraft stalled shortly after takeoff. This first flight lasted only three seconds
and resulted in minor damage to the Flyer. Wilbur would write that this first attempt saw “only partial
success,” but that "the power is ample, and but for a trifling error due to lack of experience with this
machine and this method of starting, the machine would undoubtedly have flown beautifully."
The brothers repaired the damage to their aircraft and waited for another weather window, which
presented itself on December 17th . That day, each brother took off twice into a cold and gusty headwind
and changed the world forever. Orville was the first to fly. He took off at 10:35 am and flew 120 feet in
twelve seconds. The next two flights, by Wilbur and Orville respectively, covered 175 feet and 200 feet.
They each flew about ten feet off the ground.
The brothers must have seen the real potential for the future of manned, powered flight with their final
attempt of the day. Wilbur took off and, after faltering at the beginning with the difficult controls,
managed to fly over 850 feet in about one minute. According to Orville’s account:
“Wilbur started the fourth and last flight at just about 12 o'clock. The first few hundred feet were up and down, as before, but by the time three hundred ft had been covered, the machine was under much
better control. The course for the next four or five hundred feet had but little undulation. However,
when out about eight hundred feet the machine began pitching again, and, in one of its darts
downward, struck the ground. The distance over the ground was measured to be 852 feet; the time of
the flight was 59 seconds. The frame supporting the front rudder was badly broken, but the main part of
the machine was not injured at all. We estimated that the machine could be put in condition for flight
again in about a day or two.” Despite the rough landing, the final flight that day opened the door to the future of aviation.
Fly Over the Wright Brothers National Memorial
OBX Airplanes offers air tours that fly over the monument that commemorates the Wright Brothers and
the location where they made history on that cold, breezy day in 1903. We take off from Dare County
Regional Airport and circle over the Wright Brothers National Memorial before heading north or south
along the beautiful coastline of the Outer Banks. Call us today to book an air tour in one of our Cessna
airplanes or our Waco Biplane and experience the beauty of the OBX from the air.
The waters off the Outer Banks are known by many as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic.’ The shifting shoals and angry seas along the coast of North Carolina have claimed thousands of ships and uncounted lives. Since record keeping of shipwrecks began in 1526, over five thousand ships have been claimed by the ocean off North Carolina.
As a Certified Flight Instructor on the Outer Banks of North Carolina I am pleased to say that when you fly with me you will be sure to have fun, be safe and learn to fly!