First Flight Remembered at Memorial, Winter Begins

By Lexi Holian | Monday, December 14, 2015

On the Outer Banks, we love flight. There’s just no getting around it. Kids here grow up hearing about the Wright brothers’ accomplishments, envisioning the glider soaring from the hill where the Wright Brothers National Memorial now sits and often actually flying planes themselves. That’s right – when I was in the fifth grade, learning about the Wrights and doing well in school meant getting to co-pilot a Cessna from our little airport in Kill Devil Hills. As a pint-sized kid who could barely see over the controls, taking off on the strip nearly in sight of the hill where the brothers first flew was a humbling experience even at such a young age. I joined the plethora of locals and visitors who harbor a deep respect for the Wrights and their passion that brought the world flight.

That being said, each year in December a celebration takes place on the anniversary of the first flight – the 17th for those of you who aren’t up on your aviation history. There’s a military flyover during the ceremony, and I’ll tell you that any flyover at the Memorial is a true sight to behold. Also coming up this week is the Winter Solstice, officially marking the first day of winter. It’s hard to wrap your mind around if you’ve been experiencing the 60 and 70 degree temperatures on the Outer Banks this week. I know that most lovers of the holidays dream of a white Christmas, but a 70 degree beach Christmas sounds just right to me.

Anniversary Celebration of the First FlightDarrell Collins, Speaker at the Anniversary Celebration of the Wright Brothers First Flight
One hundred and twelve years later and the thought of an airplane in the sky is about as normal as a bird in the sky. Sometimes I find it difficult to envision history as anything other than words on a page, but then I meet men like Darrell Collins, one of the speakers at the Anniversary Celebration of the Wright Brothers First Flight. The National Park Service historian brings the story of the Wright brothers to life in a way that leaves audiences spellbound – and I’m absolutely speaking from personal experience. He will be giving his account at the celebration this Thursday, December 17 along with an array of speakers from the First Flight Foundation. There will be a military flyover tribute above the Memorial as well as an honoring of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world. (To my content, she also flew a Cessna.) The celebration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the first speaker appearing at 9 a.m.

Children with Santa at The Elizabethan GardensDinner With Santa at The Elizabethan Gardens
The man of the hour will be making an appearance at The Elizabethan Gardens’ WinterLights this Sunday, December 20 for a special dinner. Enjoy the million-light spectacle that turns the gardens into an illuminated wonderland while dining with Santa Claus himself. The minds behind WinterLights will tell you that they love Dinner With Santa because the children have a chance to interact with Santa in a comfortable family environment. A professional photographer will be on hand capturing candid photos for purchase, and Santa will be bringing gifts for the little ones. There are two dinner times available at 6 and 7:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required and available by calling (252) 473-3234.

This Day Has Gone to the Birds at The Elizabethan GardensMerry Christmas, Merry Crow by Kathi Appelt
Another fun event for kids this week, The Elizabethan Gardens will host This Day Has Gone to the Birds in which children are invited to spend an afternoon going bird crazy. They will hear the story Merry Christmas, Merry Crow by Kathi Appelt, make bird feeders from things like oranges and pine cones and learn about local birds found in the gardens. Lunch will be served, and the children will also get to see a movie about birds. It’s all happening on Saturday, December 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Elizabethan Gardens.

Painting from the Outer Banks Brewing Station's Painting PartyHappy Hour Painting Party
Am I the only one who paints best with wine -- well, at least while drinking wine? The Outer Banks Brewing Station is hosting a Happy Hour Painting Party this week in which artists and those trying their hand at painting for the first time can paint with Local Color while enjoying half-price wine by the glass. There will also be a tapas menu and a mini specialty cocktail. Whether you’re there to create a masterpiece or simply to relax and unwind, it sounds like a great time. Pre-registration is available, and walk-ins are welcome on a first come, first served basis. The party starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 17.


As for nightlife this week, there’s going to be all kinds of music including local artists, a DJ dance party and even country line dancing. Not to mention a gift wrapping and tapas combination event – clearly I’ve been wrapping gifts the wrong way. Visit our Nightlife & Events page to plan your week out on the Outer Banks.

About the Author Lexi Holian
Lexi Holian was born and raised on the Outer Banks and cannot remember a time when she wasn’t writing. She can often be found planning her next trip abroad but will always return to the Outer Banks, her place of greatest inspiration. You can contact Lexi at