If soaring through the sky in the open air with nothing but sea and sand in your sights sounds appealing to you, you will want to add hang gliding to your Outer Banks bucket list!
What better place to experience gliding with the birds than in the birthplace of modern aviation? Kitty Hawk was chosen by aircraft pioneers the Wright Brothers for its optimal wind conditions and towering sand dunes. This, combined with the stunning scenery of the Carolina coast, also makes it the perfect location for hang gliding enthusiasts.
We’ve rounded up all the info about hang gliding while staying at a vacation home near Kitty Hawk to get you started on your hang gliding journey. Whether you’re a beginner or have been sailing the skies for a long time, we’ve got you covered if your destination is the Outer Banks.
What is Hang Gliding
If you’ve never been hang gliding, you may wonder what it entails. Hang gliding is actually classified as an air sport. It involves flying a light and agile craft while guiding it with your body.
To fly the craft, you lie flat on your stomach, suspended by a harness beneath the wing. This allows you to control the flight by shifting your body weight and adjusting controls. Skilled hang gliding pilots can harness wind currents and temperature to gain altitude and assist them in navigating through the air.
Do I Need Hang Gliding Lessons
Soaring through the air at 4,000 feet or greater heights is no joke for the unprepared. You definitely need some proper training and instruction before attempting to hang glide by yourself. Additionally, training will increase your proficiency in the air and teach you to harness the wind and truly glide.
Your first lesson will include instruction on equipment and safety procedures. You’ll also get a crash course in meteorology and flight theory. Before going off on your own, you’ll start with a supervised practice flight, learning to navigate the area in a controlled environment. Your trainer will monitor you closely to make sure you’ve mastered the necessary skills to go on a solo flight.
Pro tip: Dress accordingly. Wear closed-toed shoes and comfortable clothing so you can easily move in. Be sure to pack sunscreen, water, and a good camera!
Why Hang Glide in Kitty Hawk
As the birthplace of modern aviation, Kitty Hawk is a fitting place to connect with the legacy of flight. Kitty Hawk also has towering sand dunes that make the perfect launch spots for gliders.
Due to the prevailing winds from the East, Kitty Hawk maintains consistent wind patterns. These air currents, coupled with the height of the dunes, create the ideal climate for someone wanting to soar through the skies.
Additionally, Kitty Hawk provides some pretty stunning scenery. You’ll get breathtaking views of the vast expanse of the East Coast and the seemingly endless sandy shores that line the coast.
Where is the Best Place to Hang Glide in Kitty Hawk
Without a doubt, the most popular hang gliding spot in Kitty Hawk is Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
Home to the largest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast, this park is ideal for launching a hang glider. Soaring amongst the dunes of Jockey’s Ridge, you’ll experience a landscape unique to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In addition to finding plenty of places to take off, you’ll also find ample landing spaces throughout the park.
Kitty Hawk is also home to the largest hang gliding school in the world. Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School has many locations scattered from Corolla to Manteo to Ocracoke. You can take beginner hang gliding lessons or go tandem hang gliding with a professional by your side. They also offer parasailing and kayak tours at some locations.
Other Places to Hang Glide in the Outer Banks
While Kitty Hawk is the most popular spot for hang gliding enthusiasts, several other places in the Outer Banks are optimal for hang gliding.
Currituck County is full of expansive open shorelines perfect for launching. It also maintains a steady wind to help navigate the skies. If you’re lucky, you may glimpse some of the wild Spanish mustangs grazing among the dunes.
Hatteras Island offers a diverse area of scenic views and also a stunning view of the lighthouse. From towering dunes to maritime forests, you’ll have a variety of picturesque scenery to enjoy from the air.
You’ll find the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding School in Nags Head is a good option to start your journey. This location is open seasonally, though, so be sure to check to ensure they are open before visiting.
What to Know Before You Go
How much does hang gliding cost?
Costs can vary depending on what type of experience you desire. At the time of publication, lessons for beginners start at around $130 per person. Higher-level and tandem hang gliding experiences can cost $150-300 per person.
Some flight school locations also offer rolling hang gliders that launch by wheels. You can also add packages for film and GoPro videos to permanently capture the memory of your aerial adventure.
How long is the experience?
Typically you will find that lessons run around three hours. The first hour will be dedicated to safety and general training. The latter part of the lesson is spent in the skies, enjoying the scenery. Higher level and more immersive experiences may last longer than three hours.
When is the best time to go Hang Gliding?
Any time of day in the Outer Banks will offer stunning views. However, hang gliding at sunrise or sunset may provide the most colorful experience.
Due to weather patterns in the Carolinas, the best time of year to go hang gliding is during late spring to early fall. During this time, temperatures are much more tolerable, and the skies are much clearer. However, you will also find it relatively easy to find hang-gliding opportunities in the off-season.
Are there height and weight restrictions?
There is a weight minimum of 75 lbs and a maximum of 235. These restrictions exist for the safety of the flier. Too little weight can make maneuvering the glider with your body difficult. Too much weight can make it difficult to sustain speed during flight. While there are no explicit height requirements, equipment is best accessible to those between 5 and 6.5 feet tall.
How old do you have to be to go hang gliding?
While there is no legal age limit in North Carolina to participate in hang gliding, it is up to parents and guardians to determine when their child is ready for a solo flight. Tandem flights are available to children under the age of 18 with a signed waiver.
Hit the Skies Hang Gliding in Kitty Hawk!
Experience the freedom of flight while soaring over the stunning scenery of the Outer Banks. You’ll find convenient hang gliding locations all over the coastline. So check in to your vacation rental and prepare yourself for an adventure you’ll never forget. Hang gliding in the OBX is the ultimate OBX bucket list experience!