The Wright brothers weren’t the only famous pilots to fly on the Outer Banks. Inside Roanoke Island’s small airport terminal is an informative two-room museum dedicated to the rest of the story of aviation in Dare County. Learn about Dave Driskill, credited with bringing aviation to the Outer Banks in the 1930s, and how the current airport was built at the start of World War II, becoming a U.S. Navy Auxiliary Air Station and training site for World War II aircraft. A visit to the museum will open your eyes about local heroes like “Kitty Hawk Kid,” Lt. Sheldon R. “Ray” Beacham, credited with shooting down two Japanese Zero fighter planes in the South Pacific. Beacham and his VF-17 Squadron were one of the most famous Navy fighter squadrons, known for the skull and crossbones design painted on the noses of their planes. An important part of the exhibit tells the story of Coastal Patrol Base 16, based on Roanoke Island from July 1942 to August 1943. Staffed by North Carolina volunteers of the Civil Air Patrol, CBP16 flew patrols over the ocean in private aircraft, looking for enemy submarines and ships and sailors in distress. The museum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is free.
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