Outer Banks Vacation Adventures Hang Gliding
Flight takes on many forms on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Aviation pioneers, the Wright Brothers, believed this to be the perfect spot to conduct their flight experiments, and the Wright Memorial in Kill Devil Hills stands to honor that success. Migratory birds also take pleasure in what the Outer Banks has to offer as they travel along the barrier islands to and from their winter destinations. For these reasons, the Outer Banks has grown rich in the history of aviation. And for the last 40 years, Outer Banks' locals and visitors alike have also been enjoying their own form of flight—hang gliding.
The Outer Banks has also built a reputation as one of the best launching points for both aerial and water sports of all kinds. Literally hundreds of thousands of adventurers have risen to the challenge that is hang gliding.
The same conditions such as like wind and climate, which made this place so appealing to the Wright Brothers and those migrating birds, are available to the modern sports enthusiast. The Outer Banks is home to several launching spots for hang gliders, but one particular location has become especially beloved: Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina.
Jockey's Ridge is comprised of the tallest natural sand dunes on the east coast. Hang gliders enjoy launching there for the breathtaking views of the Roanoke Sound to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Though a US National Park Permit as well as a United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA) rating are required before just anyone can take the launch, for decades visitors have experienced the thrill of hang gliding through private lessons.
Kitty Hawk Kites (KHK), home to the world's largest hang gliding school since 1974, offers several different packages to meet the desires of any hang gliding novice. After ground training and safety procedures are covered, their licensed and experienced instructors will put you through a three hour lesson that include solo trips where gliders can soar anywhere from 30 to 100+ yards at 5 to 15 feet above the sand. You take on the role of pilot as each one of these trips is considered a "flight."
Even the kids can get in on the action! If your child can understand and follow basic commands, KHK can accommodate them as well. Children as young as four years old have taken the plunge, so it's truly an exciting event for the entire family.
For the real daredevils, tandem hang gliding lessons are also available at multiple locations along the beach. Tandem flights are achieved when the student and certified instructor are harnessed together on a single hang glider and towed up by an ultralight. For the ultimate hang gliding experience, flights can be taken as high as 2,000 feet or a mile. That's 5,280 feet in the air! The views of the Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean, and the surrounding countryside are unforgettable from those altitudes. Once the glider has been released from the ultralight, the instructor guides you on flying techniques, combined with stalls, dives, and turns. With nothing but the sound of the wind in your face, you'll wish this 10-15 minute flight could last forever. It's surely a memorable experience, and that's why it's favored among the greatest things to do on the Outer Banks.
Hang gliding is such a cherished experience that many locals and vacationers decide to get their own certification through special classes where they gain knowledge of setting up and breaking down a glider, checking safety equipment, and taking flight. Certifications range from a Beginner Rating to Aero-Tow Hang Gliding II Rating, but a certification in hand allows someone the liberty to purchase their own hang gliding equipment for solo flights.
Should a hang gliding adventure suit your fancy, you will want to consult with the hang gliding school about necessary items to bring. Whatever you do, just don't forget your camera!
Where to Stay
Now you're convinced that hang gliding needs to be the top priority on the agenda of your next Outer Banks vacation. Don't know where to stay? Vacation rental homes are by and large the most popular way to experience the Outer Banks. Elan Vacations was ranked #1 for customer satisfaction for Outer Banks Rentals in the 2012 Best of the Beach, and we've been helping families find the perfect rental for over 10 years.
A great Outer Banks vacation begins with the perfect rental, so let us help you. Call us at (252) 491-8787 or toll free at (866) 760-ELAN. You may also book online. We look forward to your next visit with us!