Located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in Dare County, the Town of Kitty Hawk offers year-round residents and visitors alike a unique and relaxing environment. The origin of Kitty Hawk’s name is still a matter of local debate. Many believe the name is derived from a Native American name “Chickeawk” or “Chickahawk”, a time or place to hunt geese. Others believe it is derived from early English pronunciation of “mosquito hawk” or “skeeter hawk”, a name commonly used for the dragonfly. Whatever the origin, the name Kitty Hawk was spelled as it is today on old land deeds dating back to the eighteenth century.
The Town of Kitty Hawk is rich in history and tradition. When Orville and Wilbur Wright looked for a site for their aviation experiments in 1900, they needed a place with winds regularly over 15 mph. with gentle hills for glider launching, a sandy surface for soft landings, and a remote location to avoid public attention. A Kitty Hawk citizen, Mr. Bill Tate, assured the Wrights in a letter that Kitty Hawk would provide the ideal location. In closing, Mr. Tate encouraged Wilbur: “If you decide to try your machine here & come I will take pleasure in doing all I can for your convenience & success & pleasure, & I assure you, you will find a hospitable people when you come among us.” That tradition lives on today.
Today’s Kitty Hawk, incorporated as a town on April 13, 1981, consists of our traditional village, a beach community of residential cottages, and a 461-acre maritime forest reserve called Kitty Hawk Woods. The Woods feature a wide variety of plant and animal life. The beach and village are characterized by low to medium density, single-family residential developments, mainly served by small businesses. Both the beach and the village share a feeling that development should remain on a human scale and in harmony with nature. It is a pattern and character of the town that both year-round and seasonal residents want to preserve.