Wright Brothers, Coast Guard make history together

Posted at 9:08 PM, Dec 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-17 21:08:04-05

Today is officially Wright Brothers day.

The Wright brothers launched the era of flight on the Outer Banks.  But there's a part of that story you've probably never heard before.

The Wright brothers made some important friends on the Outer Banks. They became friends with members of the Coast Guard. We know them as modern-day heroes who risk their lives to save others at sea.

But it turns out they were real life heroes way back then also.

And the Wright brothers might never have gotten off the ground without them.

The barren, wind-swept dunes of North Carolina's Outer Banks hosted history and a handful of local coast guardsmen helped make it.

They were called Surfmen back then and lived hard by the Atlantic. Normally, they patrolled the four miles between their Kill-Devil Hills lifesaving station and the one in Kitty Hawk. But their desolate and sometimes lonely existence all changed in 1901 when two brothers arrived from Ohio.

Wilbur and Orville Wright came to North Carolina to fly. And over the next three years, the Surfmen became their friends. They delivered mail and groceries and helped the brothers with the gliders and flyers they built.

On December 17th, 1903, they were there helping with the attempt that would become the flight that we all know today. Few people know the names of men like John Daniels and Will Dough. But they know that day men flew an airplane and it was even recorded. Surfman John Daniels operated a camera for the first time in his life.