Darrell M Collins is a native of the North Carolina’s Outer Banks and resides in Manteo, on Roanoke Island. He graduated from Manteo High School, from Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina and holds a B. S. degree in Geology, Minor in History.
He worked with the National Park Service in the division of interpretation and education for over 38 years, spending the majority of his time at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where he served as the Historian. He served with NASA in a series of educational programs promoting aviation and the Wright brothers to young children. In 1990 he was selected as the National Park Service top Interpretative Ranger for the Freeman Tilden Award. In 1999 he was selected by the Department of the Interior to represent the National Park Service for the “Park Ranger Tour Program”, an outreach program for children in major U. S. cities. In 2003 the centennial year of the world’s first flight at Kitty Hawk he presented the National Park Service nationally and internationally promoting the 100th Anniversary of that great milestone in human history.
For the past thirty two years he has been on the aviation/aerospace lecture circuit. Previous speaking engagements include the Aero Club of Washington’s Wright Memorial Dinner, National Air Transportation, Aerospace Industries of America, Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association, 40th Ralph Barnaby Lecture, National Business Aviation Association. He has been a regular speaker at the Speakers’ Showcase Series at the Oshkosh Fly-In Convention, Australian International Airshow DownUnder and many other aviation/aerospace oriented groups and events. Darrell Collins ranks in the top 5 historians in the world on early aviation and the Wright brothers. He is the author on numerous articles and consulting editor for play writes and authors on early aviation and the Wright brothers AND has just co-authored a book with Doug Stover on the origins of the Wright Brothers National Memorial entitled, "Images of America, Wright Brothers National Memorial" published by Arcadia Publishing. It is available in bookstores and online at sales@arcadiapublishing .com.
He is a member of the Heaven Creek Baptist Church in Manteo, serves on the board of Commissioners for the Town of Manteo, President of the Pea Island Preservation Society, INC, Past Board of Directors of the Outer Banks History Center Associates, Honorary member of the Virginia Historical Aviation Society and a Paul Harris Fellow presented by Rotary International. He is the Chairman of the Professional Advisory Committee/End of Life Coalition of Dare County Home Health Care & Hospice. In 2003 the Governor awarded him the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine” the highest civilian recognition given by the State of North Carolina for his outstanding and dedicated service to Wright Brothers National Memorial. Also in 2003, the National Aeronautic Association presented him with an International award, the Paul Tissandier Diploma for his career of service to aeronautics and the preservation aviation history. In 2008 he was the Dare County’s Parks and Recreation Volunteer of the Year. Darrell also received a Certificate of Appreciation in 2017 from the Dare County Board of Commissioners in recognition of his distinguished career with the National Park Service serving as historian and inspiring generations with the spirit of flight that was born in Dare County, North Carolina.
His Uncle Herbert Collins was the last commanding officer of the only all black Pea Island Coast Guard Station on the Outer Banks of North Carolina before it was decommissioned in 1947. His father Frank M. Collins served 10 years in the U. S. Coast Guard before he perished in Hurricane Donna that swept the Outer Banks of North Carolina in September 1960 when he was 5 years old. The family has lived on Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for over 168 years. His mother Dellerva E. Collins served over 26 years as a Commissioner of the Town of Manteo. His grandfather Frank Wise’ parents where members of the Freedmens Colony that settled on Roanoke Island in 1862 during the Civil War.
His wife, Tonya L. Collins, is the first African American Real-Estate Broker/Owner (Outer Banks Dreams Realty), on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and they have two sons, Darius Collins who now works for the National Park Service and Frank Collins who works for the State of North Carolina and one grandson, Barkley Collins. His hobbies include traveling, reading, basketball, gardening, fishing, and coaching Dare County Parks and Recreation 10-12 year old boy’s basketball.