After COVID delay, plans move forward for Rogallo Museum at Jockey’s Ridge

By on September 16, 2022

Rendering of the proposed Rogallo Museum.

Plans are underway for a 12,000-square-foot museum at Jockey’s Ridge State Park (JRSP) that will honor Francis and Gertrude Rogallo, longtime Dare County residents who in 1948 invented the self-inflating, flexible wing now known as the paraglider.

Rogallo Foundation President and Kitty Hawk Kites owner John Harris said that the organization has revived efforts to make the museum a reality by working on a land lease with N.C. State Parks to build the museum on a piece of land just east of the park’s visitor center and hang-gliding concession building.

The Rogallo Foundation’s leaders first began working on the concept of such a museum about five years ago, Harris told the Voice. In 2018, in collaboration with N.C. State Parks, the foundation went through the site selection process and building concept design. The COVID-19 pandemic put those plans on hold.

“We are getting back to working on getting that lease done,” said Harris, who noted that the construction of the museum and its exhibits, as well as operations, are estimated to cost $7 million, which will be raised through private donations and would be at no cost to the state. There is no timetable for the project, Harris said, but estimates an opening is about five years away.

“The Rogallos were great people who contributed a lot, and a lot of people don’t know their story and it’s an inspiring story,” he told the Voice.

Francis Rogallo, who died a year after his wife, in 2009, was known as the father of hang gliding. A former aeronautical engineer and researcher, he and wife Gertrude conducted the first successful flight of the flexibe wing in 1948 after conducting research in their in-house, homemade wind tunnel and at Jockey’s Ridge. Their invention led to the hang glider, paraglider, sport parachutes, delta kites, stunt kites and kiteboarding kites.

“The museum will tell the history of all these sports,” said Harris during a presentation at the Dare County Board of Commissioners Sept. 6 meeting, where commissioners unanimously passed a resolution supporting the foundation’s request to make the museum a reality at Jockey’s Ridge State Park and for the two entities to establish a lease agreement.

Harris was also joined by author Billy Vaughn, who is writing a book about the Rogallos. Vaughn offered a presentation to commissioners about the Rogallos, their invention and its impact on low-speed flight.

Harris noted that once the lease agreement is reached, a more robust campaign will begin to raise funds. Of the museum, he said that he hopes “it will inspire future generations to invent and create.”

For more information, or to donate, visit or attend the annual Brew Tag OBX, a celebration of flight and beer on Oct. 22 at the Soundside Event Center in Nags Head. All proceeds will benefit the Rogallo Foundation and the museum efforts.





  • Alf

    1st world problems…

    Saturday, Sep 17 @ 1:35 pm
  • George barnes

    The proposed Rogallo museum does not belong at Jockeys ridge. It is against the purpose of protecting the park and educating about why the park is here in its natural state. If kohl wants a museum they should build it on there property or at wright brothers monument where it would fit

    Tuesday, Sep 20 @ 3:12 pm
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