24 Hours in North Carolina’s Outer Banks

North Carolina’s Outer Banks may be known for surf fishing, over-the-top vacation homes — or, if you obsessively watch the Weather Channel this time of year, hurricanes — but after just a day on the ground in these barrier islands, you’ll see it in a completely different light.

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The Wright Brothers facility is filled with highlights, but the one that stands above all others — both figuratively and literally — is the monument to flight. It’s a wing-shaped obelisk that towers above the old hangar and historical runway. As you stand at its base looking down at the place where people first took to the skies, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride at how far we’ve come in so short a time.

It makes you wonder what the next century will hold for aviation.

If Jockey’s ridge is a sandbox, then the Wright Brothers Memorial is a classroom. But don’t tell the kids. Somehow seeing the first aircraft in 3D — and understanding how the pilot controlled it by moving his body and bending the wings — will help my kids understand aviation so much better than any textbook could.

That’s worth the price of admission.