Although an Outer Banks tour will usually focus on the gorgeous beaches and lighthouses, the islands also have tremendous historical significance. In fact, the Outer Banks were home to several famous firsts, including some technological achievements that are still in use today. Here are a few firsts that originated right here on the islands:
First Powered Flight: In 1903, only a year after Fessenden’s groundbreaking test broadcast, two brothers named Wilbur and Orville Wright demonstrated their own brand new technology: a motorized craft capable of powered flight. Although previous inventors had created gliders capable of some flight, the Wright Flyer tested in the Outer Banks was the first aircraft to fly using its own power and lift and is considered by most to be the first airplane.
First American: Although there have been people living in North America for thousands of years, the first person born in the European colonies that would eventually become the United States was Virginia Dare, who was born in 1587 on Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks. Along with the rest of the colony, Virginia would disappear mysteriously less than a year after her birth and her fate remains unknown.
First Voice Radio Broadcast: Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden made the first public radio broadcast of a human voice in 1906 from a tower in Massachusetts, but his initial test broadcast actually came four years earlier in the Outer Banks. At the time, Fessenden was working for the Weather Bureau and demonstrated the effectiveness of his technology by broadcasting a 127-word message from a tower on Hatteras Island to one on Roanoke Island.
To make the most of your next trip to North Carolina, check out our bundle of Self-Guided Outer Banks Driving Tours, or you can sign up for Action+ to gain access to over 100 tours for a single yearly price.
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