We drove back north, doing good time and slowing to take a few photos here and there. Our goal was to return to Nag’s Head and Kill Devil Hill before the First Flight Park closed.
Luckily, we made it.
This time, Trixie sneaked into the old museum in her carriage. The main building was a futuristic structure of khaki block, large glass windows looking out on the field, and was topped by a bright orange skylight that was like an air traffic control booth. Inside, there were a handful of artifacts; a reproduction of the Wright’s wind tunnel, a broken propeller and engine block, a few of the tools used; the actual flier of course is in the Smithsonian in DC, but they had a reproduction of the flier and one of the gliders on display in the large meeting room that was edged with portraits of early aviation pioneers and teams, looking out onto the first air field.
The “airfield” is a stubble-grassed plain with warnings of prickly pear cactus growing nearby, so we stayed on the concrete paths. Parts of the field still had huge puddles out on it from the previous night’s rains. Two sheds stood out on the field, reproductions of their quarters and workshop to build the flier, rather pathetic grey-weathered buildings best described as a campsite in the middle of nowhere. Today a curtain of pines encircles the site, providing a sense of the isolation they lived in during that ground-breaking era. Outside the park, houses, hotels and shops huddle together on this once deserted stretch of land, almost trying to swallow up the site whole.