10/2/2019 0 Comments
On just our $15 Cessna airplane ride & on the shortest biplane ride that we offer for $99 for 2 people our air tour passengers can see 4 bridges which connect mainland Dare County to the Outer Banks. Before the 1920s you needed to ride on a ferry to get to Manteo, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and more!
The closest bridges to the airport in Manteo are the bridges that connect mainland Dare County to Roanoke Island. The oldest of these is the William B. Umstead Bridge is a steel stringer design bridge that is 2.8 miles long. Dare County Bridge #9 was built in 1955 and dedicated to Mr. Umstead who was the 63rd Governor of the State of North Carolina. It connects the north end of Roanoke Island to Manns Harbor. The west end of the William B. Umstead Bridge is also the home to more than 100,000 Purple Martins during the months of July & August. These small aerobatic birds choose to roost here on their way migrating to Brazil. There are so many during dusk & dawn that the speed limit drops to 20MPH during these hours to protect them. It is also known as the “Old Manns Harbor Bridge” since it was replaced by a new more modern bridge that crosses over from Manns Harbor to Roanoke Island further south. This bridge is called the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge.
The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge is a segmented girder bridge & is 5.2 miles long making it the longest bridge in the state of North Carolina. It is 65 feet tall in the middle with pilings that reach 100 feet below it into the Croatan Sound and connects the south end of Manns Harbor by way of Highway 64 to Highway 264 & Highway 158 to the beach. The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge is designed to last at least 100 years! Finished in 2002, The Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge costs $90 million to complete. This bridge is dedicated to Virginia Dare who was the first english child born in the new world in 1587.
On just the $15 ride you will see a 3rd bridge! To get to Nags Head from Roanoke Island you cross a concrete slab bridge called the Washington Baum Bridge at 82 feet high and just over 1 mile long. It was completed and dedicated to Washington Baum in 1997 to replace the original bridge that Wanchese native & county commissioner Washington Baum influenced to build in the 1920s. Driving over this bridge is exciting for visitors coming to the Outer Banks because for the first time during your travels you can see the beach & Jennette’s Pier! Driving east if you look to the left you see Pirates Cove Marina with all of its beautiful yachts! To the west & south side of the bridge is a very nice boat ramp. Careful of high crosswinds driving over the bridge.
The 4th bridge seen on the $15 ride is the Melvin R Daniels bridge connects the Pirates Cove area to Nags Head through the Causeway. This bridge is referred to as the “Little Bridge” and is a terrific place for 1000s of visitors & locals for fishing and crabbing off the sides. The fishing platforms run on both sides of the bridge to make it enjoyable to fish off it’s low sides. This bridge was dedicated to Melvin R. Daniels in 1997, Daniels was a former NC State Senator.
To get onto the Outer Banks from way of Currituck the Wright Memorial Bridge connects Point Harbor to Kitty Hawk, the east bound, concrete slab bridge was completed in 1966 & the west bound segmented girder bridge was completed in 1995. Each of these bridges are just under 3 miles long. They replaced what was originally a wooden 3 mile bridge that cost $1 toll to cross built in 1930 to replace a ferry service. Many of our tour passengers will spend way too much time on this bridge as the enter onto the Outer Banks with traffic backed up for hours on Saturdays east bound. You may see our banner planes running ads about events & even our $15 rides & biplane rides banner to the unfortunate traffic jam. You might consider an alternative route to the Outer Banks through Elizabeth City, Edenton & Plymouth on highway 64 where you would instead cross the Virginia Dare Bridge onto Manteo & into Nags Head.
On our Inlet tours in both the biplane & the Cessna, our newest and most exciting bridge is the Marc Basnight bridge spanning 2.8 miles long & cost $252 Million to complete & opened in February 2019. Marc Basnight is currently a senator in North Carolina. The Marc Basnight Bridge connects Bodie Island (South Nags Head) to Pea Island (Rodanthe & south). It replaced the Herbert C Bonner Bridge that still stands but will be demolished. Without a bridge to cross the Oregon Inlet, the visitors & residents of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco & Hatteras Island are only able to get to their homes by boat or air. The Bonner Bridge withstood many more years that its lifespan & allowed over 2 million cars across each year ranking only a 4 out of 100 as a safe bridge with 100 being the safest!
On our hour long Cessna & biplane rides you can see the “New Inlet” Bridge & the construction of the Jug Handle bridge on the northern end of Rodanthe. The New Inlet bridge was constructed after Hurricane Irene created a new inlet through Highway 12 on the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge.
The Jug Handle bridge will be 2.4 miles long & is considered phase 2 of the Bonner Bridge Replacement project. It will leave out of the north end of Rodanthe and connect north to highway 12 standing over the Pamlico sound. The budget to complete the Jug Handle is $145 Million.
To book a biplane ride or $15 air tour click here: https://www.obxairplanes.com/
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!