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Road Trip: Beach seasonRoad Trip: Beach season

The many charming airports of North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Beach season on the East Coast sings a siren song, and nowhere is more “beachy” than the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Road Trip
Photography by Chris Rose

The 200-mile spit of land and barrier islands separates the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland, and this windswept ocean beachfront is devoid of crowds for much of the year. But in summer the conga line of family-filled vehicles winds down the coast, everyone in search of their own patch of sand. Fly over this morass of cars and vans and SUVs—six general aviation airports serve the Outer Banks, four of which are directly on the oceanfront. The most famous of these is First Flight Airport (FFA) named for the Wright brothers’ successful first flight at Kill Devil Hill. Also along the coast is Pine Island (7NC2) in Corolla, Billy Mitchell (HSE) in Frisco, and Ocracoke Island Airport (W95) at the very end of the spit on Ocracoke Island. Until these airports opened, the only access to this lovely stretch of beach was by car or boat. The largest GA airport is Dare County (MQI) in Manteo. It, along with Currituck County Regional Airport (ONX) in Currituck, is on the mainland side of the sound. These airports have fuel; the other smaller airports on the coastline do not (and Pine Island is now private, as of December 2019).

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Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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