The Ultimate Guide To Hang Gliding On The Outer Banks

North Carolina is the home of modern aviation and adventure seekers can get a taste of flight with an OBX hang gliding lesson.

Not for the faint of heart, hang gliding is the perfect way to enjoy a thrilling and memorable activity during your vacation.

But what exactly is hang gliding, and how can first-timers get started? Where can you find a reputable hang gliding company in OBX, and how much will it cost?

We’ve got the answer to these questions and more in our official Outer Banks hang gliding guide!

What Is Hang Gliding?

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr CC2.0

Hang gliding, also called paragliding, is a recreational air sport in which a person (called a ‘pilot’) flies a light, non-motorized aircraft called a ‘hang glider’. Modern hang gliders look like large kites and are constructed with durable materials like aluminum alloy and synthetic sailcloth specifically designed for aerodynamics. Hang gliding takes place along a cliff or other steep drop-off. To get started, a pilot will securely buckle into the hang glider and then accelerate towards the cliff. From there, the hang glider gracefully catches air and allows the pilot to ‘glide’ down to safety. Think parasailing, but without the water or boat!

History of Hang Gliding

Hang gliding has been around in some form or fashion for centuries. The modern version that we know today dates back to the late 1800s. German engineer Otto Lilienthal is credited with crafting the first modern hang gliding vehicle, and only a few critical alterations have been made over the years.

Scientists and engineers took notes from hang gliding for their first attempts at aviation, and you might remember that the first flight took place in Kitty Hawk. The Outer Banks has a rich flight and aviation history, and hang gliding in the Outer Banks is a great way to combine history and adventure.

Today, guests visiting the Outer Banks can enjoy stunning scenery and a thrilling adventure via professional hang gliding lessons. Several local proprietors offer safe and affordable hang gliding lessons for guests of any experience level—including first-time hang gliders.

Where To Get Hang Gliding Lessons

Photo Credit: C Watts via Flickr CC2.0

Though there are several reputable hang gliding vendors scattered along the coast, few offer the expertise and convenience of Kitty Hawk Kites. With 10 full-service locations along the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk Kites is the area’s premier choice for hang gliding. Service areas include Duck, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head, to name a few. Experienced visitors can enjoy a solo trip off local dunes, while less experienced guests or first-time fliers can enjoy a tandem trip or a full ‘taste of flight’ lesson. Kitty Hawk Kites also offers dedicated hang gliding lessons for kids.

Be sure to visit the Kitty Hawk Kites website for hang gliding location and package information.

Top Spots For Hang Gliding In The Outer Banks

Photo Credit: Matt Phillips via Flickr CC2.0

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is by far the most popular location for hang gliding in Outer Banks. Centrally located in Nags Head, which makes it convenient for guests staying along either end of OBX, Jockey’s Ridge State Park features the area’s most impressive natural sand dunes and ridges. These dunes are a natural fit for hang gliding as they provide an easy and convenient platform for visitors to glide, in addition to offering beautiful views of the surrounding beaches.

Photo Credit: ashoe via Flickr CC2.0

Other notable hang gliding spots along the Outer Banks include the Currituck County Airport and the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.

OBX Hang Gliding FAQs

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about hang gliding in OBX. Do you have a question that’s not on our list? Let us know and we’ll add it!

How much does hang gliding cost?

The cost of a hang gliding lesson varies based on the type of lesson booked. In general, beginner lessons start at around $100 per person. More advanced or immersive hang gliding lessons and tandem hang gliding experiences typically run between $150 – $300 per person.

How long goes a hang gliding session last?

A typical hang gliding lesson will last about three hours, with about one hour dedicated to safety and general training. The remaining two hours are spent enjoying the scenery from above! More immersive or advanced hang gliding lessons may last longer.

When is the best time to go hang gliding?

The Outer Banks offer a long and scenic hang gliding season. In general, late-spring through early-fall are the best times of year to go hang gliding, based on weather conditionals and seasonality. However, there are still off-season hang gliding opportunities, including special events like the annual ‘Hanging with Santa’ event.

How old do you have to be to go hang gliding?

Though there is no legal age limit for hang gliding in North Carolina, we recommend that parents/guardians use their best judgment for solo flights. Hang gliding does require a certain amount of weight (at least ~80 pounds) and strength to control the equipment. Tandem flights are available for children under 18, though a parent or legal guardian must be present and sign a waiver. Guests over the age of 18 are free to fly waiver-free.

What should I wear to hang gliding?

We recommend wearing several layers hang gliding, even in the summer. Bring comfortable clothes that are easy to layer, like long/athletic pants, a tank top, and a jacket. Weather is notoriously unpredictable in the Outer Banks and it can be especially windy and chilly at higher altitudes. We also require the use of closed-toe shoes.

What should I bring with me to hang gliding?

Though you don’t need to bring anything to your hang gliding lesson, having the following items on-hand is recommended: sunscreen, eye protection, several clothing layers, plastic bags/sealed containers, water, camera.

Is hang gliding family friendly?

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Yes! Hang gliding is a great activity for families. However, you’ll need to be sure everyone in your family is able to participate before you book your session. Children under the age of 18 will need parental/guardian permission to participate, and everyone in the group must meet height and weight minimums to ensure the safe use of equipment. You can always call the hang gliding center in advance with any questions or concerns.

We hope you enjoy your adventure in the Outer Banks! Be sure to visit our Outer Banks Things To Do page for even more OBX activities and events.

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