Who Were Wilbur and Orville?
1889 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
1900
Kitty Hawk: Testing
Grounds
Kitty Hawk: Testing Grounds
To test their glider, the Wrights needed a site with wide-open spaces and strong, steady winds. Among the places that seemed promising was Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, a small fishing village on an isolated strip of beach on the mid-Atlantic coast.
Wright Camp at Kitty Hawk
The Wrights provisions and the interior of their camp building in 1902.
(front view)

 
Beyond the favorable conditions for gliding, the welcoming response to a letter Wilbur wrote to the local weather station settled the matter. William Tate, the best-educated resident of the little hamlet, enthusiastically endorsed Kitty Hawk as a fine place to conduct the experiments Wilbur described, and he offered to help in any way he could.
An arduous journey
The trip to Kitty Hawk was arduous, and weather proved unpredictable. Sudden squalls frequently blew in off the ocean, and the constantly shifting sand got into everything. Insects, especially mosquitoes, pestered them. Food was scarce, so the Wrights always brought their own provisions. Years later Orville remarked that the place was “like the Sahara, or what I imagine the Sahara to be.”
“They [mosquitoes] chewed us clear through our underwear and socks. Lumps began swelling up all over my body like hen’s eggs. . . . Misery! Misery!”
--Orville Wright, July 1901
We came down here for wind and sand, and we have got them. . . . The sand is the greatest thing in Kitty Hawk, and soon will be the only thing.”
Orville Wright, October 1900

 
William J. Tate and Family
William J. Tate and family in front of the Kitty Hawk Post Office, 1900.

Vacations nonetheless
Despite the hardships, Wilbur and Orville viewed their trips to Kitty Hawk as vacations. They enjoyed escaping the tedium of city life, grew fond of the Tates and other local folk they came to know, and found the chance to test their ideas in the field exhilarating.
 
The brothers always returned to Dayton feeling rejuvenated. Years later they would look back on their times at Kitty Hawk as some of the happiest of their lives.
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