Category Archives: aerial photography

North Rodanthe Aerial

North Rodanthe is on the edge. From the late 70’s through the late 80’s, I lived in a small house on highway 12 where I set up business selling my prints. The town had eluded much development. There was very little infrastructure, no cable tv, no central water, power outages and flooding were relatively common.

At the time, I was young and more resilient. The locality was my oyster, so to speak. I ate waterfowl, seafood, surfed my brains out, and made photographic prints for a livelihood. I enjoyed the relative isolation of Rodanthe, and reveled the stormy conditions as occasional photographic subjects.

I made these aerial photographs of the north end of Rodanthe around 1980. There were very few beach cottages at the time, and Mirlo Beach subdivision wasn’t even a pipe dream yet.

North Rodanthe in 1980. The “Rodanthe Creek”, where the current ferry terminal is located, is on the lower right.

The view looking east shows Rodanthe Creek and Chicamacomico property all the way to the beach. My house at the time is located in the center of the picture, right on highway 12.

Those were the days!

Barrier Island Transformation

I’ve lost track of time since Irene struck and flooded our villages more than six weeks ago.

There’s been a lot of cleaning up, and that should continue into the coming months and throughout the winter.

It’s been an emotional roller coaster, and I’ve been preoccupied with multiple tasks while trying to document life here, as I go. Of course, the newly cut inlet at Pea Island has had my curiosity the entire time.

So on Saturday, I saw the affected areas for the first time with my favorite pilot, Dwight Burrus of Hatteras. He owns and operates Burrus Flying Service, and I highly recommend his expertise in flight as well as his knowledge in local lore and history.

Here is some of what we saw the other day.

Bodie Island spit on the north side of Oregon Inlet has been split in two, while the navigation channel has been scoured to an increased depth.

The west dike at the north pond impoundment of the Pea Island refuge was breached by the storm surge.

Of course, Irene Inlet has been the talk of the town. This is one of the key spots where the pressure of the surge from Pamlico Sound was released.

HIghway 12 looking north towards the wildlife refuge impoundments and Oregon Inlet.

Looking west toward Pamlico Sound. Before the inlet was cut this coastal marsh was a prolific haven for marine life. With the flow of water in and out, it will be interesting to see how it adapts.

A quarter mile to the south of Irene Inlet is New Inlet cut in the storm of 1933. Still visible in the top of the picture are the remnants of the bridge that was never completed, as that inlet naturally filled back in.

My advice is not to buy oceanfront property at Mirlo Beach. It’s a loosing battle, for sure.

Looking north to Pea Island, the Mirlo Beach oceanfront is very unstable. The long, winding road beyond runs through the wildlife refuge.

The NC Ferry System has been the only link to the mainland for several weeks. Next to the ferry terminal on the right side of the picture is the community building that became instrumental in providing for the needy citizens of the Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo.

The National Park Service Day Use Area south of Salvo has become the landfill for all the debris collected since the storm. The Farrow family cemetery, which was damaged by the storm, is at the lower left. The road at the top of the photo is the entrance to ramp 23 beach access.

The debris piles are much larger than most of the houses in the villages.

This afternoon about 6:00 they opened the new temporary bridge, allowing visitors to enter the island once again. There was relatively little fanfare, some media coverage, and I could hear some vehicle occupants cheering as they rolled across the new bridge.

It’s going to be interesting to see how well this works out in time. What will the natural elements throw at highway 12 next….. and when?

New lease on life

Before I sign off on Serendipity, I want to show the new location. The picture tells it like it is. Today with the sun setting after a beautiful winter day, Serendipity already looks idyllic on site.

In 1991, Serendipity was only a couple years old. Roger Meekins, the original developer of the Mirlo Beach subdivision had asked me to make some photographs for him. He was proud of the new development, and especially proud of Serendipity.   

As you can see from this 1991 aerial view, there was plenty of dune and beach way back then. That’s Serendipity on the far right.

A Fascination for Flight


I grew up in a Navy family that traveled to new tours of duty every couple of years. Many of those stations required transportation in propeller powered military aircraft. So my fascination for flight began at an early age. I always wanted the window seat. As a nine year old, I distinctly remember flying across the Pacific Ocean to the island of Guam. How I loved peering out of the window at the ocean and islands below!

Today I still hold that same fascination for flight with aerial photography. After Hurricane Isabel in 2003, I made seven flights over Hatteras, Ocracoke and Portsmouth Islands. I wasn’t interested in the destructive power of the storm. Instead I wanted to see and document how nature constantly shapes the Outer Banks.

Last year, parts of the beaches of our National Seashore Park were closed due to bird nesting, including the Cape Point of Hatteras Island. I’ve photographed the Point from the air before, but only with off-road vehicles on it. My intention last Summer was to fly and shoot it’s more natural, pristine state, but I procrastinated and suddenly the point was opened to traffic and I missed my chance.

This year I put it off again until July 26th when I called my good friend and pilot Dwight Burrus. Dwight and his wife Debbie operate Burrus Flying Service out of Billy Mitchell Airport in Frisco. I’ve flown in his beautiful red and white 1971 Cessna on numerous occasions, and I can’t say enough about his expertise. I tell him what I’m looking for and he takes me there, every time. It’s almost as if I’m flying the plane myself. Dwight was raised on Hatteras, and knows the coast and it’s steeped history well. I highly recommend the tours of Burrus Flying Service. Call them at (252) 986-2679 or visit the web site for more information. Tell them I sent you.

Let me show you what I saw on this latest flight, looking down on the scenery below.


cp-south                      Looking out to Cape Point from the south or “the hook” side.


cpnorth                                                         Looking toward the point from the north beach.



cpsoutheast22                                                            Looking toward the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from over the Point.


cppond                                The shoreline of the pond at Cape Point.


lighthouse2                                                          No flight is complete without a lighthouse fly-by.


isabel-inlet                       This is the site of the inlet that was cut by Hurricane Isabel.


marlin-club                          The famous Hatteras Marlin Club in Hatteras Village.


hatterasvillage                The south end of Hatteras Village at the ferry terminal to Ocracoke Island.


hattsouthpoint                   The south point of Hatteras Island at Hatteras Inlet looking to Pamlico Sound.


ocracoke-ferry                 The ferry, Chicamacomico, en route to Ocracoke from Hatteras.


uscgstation                     The north end of Ocracoke Island at the site of the former Hatteras Inlet                    Coast Guard Station. The station was destroyed in storms. All that remains                    are the pilings. This illustrates the lack of stability of barrier island systems.


oislandbackside                                       Ocracoke Island from the sound side.


island-marsh                               An island in the sound behind Ocracoke Island.


silver-lake                             Silver Lake surrounded by scenic Ocracoke Village.


springers-point                            The beautiful maritime forest at Springer’s Point on Ocracoke.


o-beach                                                       The untouched beach at Ocracoke’s South Point.


o-inlet-bar                       A sandbar where Ocracoke Inlet meets the Pamlico Sound.


o-inletbackridge                                                       An underwater sand ridge extending into Pamlico Sound from Ocracoke Inlet.


o-sandbar                            A sandbar in the Pamlico Sound near Ocracoke Inlet.


o-inletwing                              Dwight’s Cessna banking over Ocracoke Inlet for a shot at the                                                 untouched South Point.


o-inlet-mouth                    The South Point of Ocracoke in a pristine state from 1,000 feet.