Hang Gliding Outer Banks

Hang gliding is also called paragliding, a recreational sport people call using what looks like a kite to fly. This may include flying over the water, the dunes, or other areas. Modern hang gliders are sturdy and durable, designed for aerodynamics. Start at a cliff or drop-off point to get the best trajectory. Since Outer Banks is home to the first flight with the Wright Brothers, it only makes sense it is also the place people come for adventure and fun flying the skies in a hang glider.

Hang Gliding Outer Banks

Hang gliding is nothing new. German engineer Otto Lilienthal helped create the first modern hang-gliding vehicle. Over time, multiple attempts to change hang gliders took place, especially following the success of the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk. Steeped in aviation history, hang gliding Outer Banks is one of the best ways to explore the area’s adventurous side. Take a thrill ride with lessons before giving it a go yourself. First-timers to more experienced hang gliders can head out for some fun. Step onto the dunes of Kill Devil Hills or walk into any shop for some gear and tips. Several shops are available around the island to help you get a better view of the coast. Look for some of the best spots to launch and figure out where some out-of-the-way spots might be that are less crowded with more room to see and experience the Outer Banks from on high. Check out special events in May with the Hang Gliding Spectacular and late November when Santa appears at Hangin with Santa at Kitty Hawk Kites.

Where to Hang Glide

Several spots around Outer Banks serve as hang gliding locations. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head: central location in Outer Banks with amazing dunes and ridge, a natural fit for hang gliding. Nags Head is the tallest natural sand dune on the East Coast
  • Currituck County Airport: go solo or try tandem lessons with Kitty Hawk Kites. Offering sunset runs with spectacular views of the sound
  • Natural dunes or high points around the area, most of them used by Kitty Hawk Kites who has the premier training packages and trips for hang gliding in Outer Banks
  • Cotton Gin, Jarvisburg: hang ten at altitudes of 2000 ft or higher at this Kitty Hawk Kites Flight Park. Take in views of Currituck Sound, the ocean, and countryside from up high. Start in an ultralight plane to reach altitude then be released to feel the breeze and fly

Hang Gliding Lessons

Kitty Hawk Kites offers licensed and experienced professionals at their hang gliding school. A lesson will last around 3 hours and part of that focused on ground training and safety. Head off to Jockey’s Ridge dunes and get strapped into a harness. Offering solo trips as well as tandem rides and kids rides for ages 12 and older. Adult lessons require at least 100 lbs in weight and accessibility accommodation for individuals with a wheelchair who want to learn how to fly.

Want to experience more thrills? Take special classes for United States Hang Gliding Association (USHGA) certification, offered at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Students must demonstrate knowledge of setting up and taking down a glider, checking safety equipment, and flying safely with a good landing. Gliders will perform these tasks under the watchful eye of a licensed witness.

Hang Gliding Tips

Whether you’re new or old at hang gliding, you might need some tips to help you get started. What to know before you go:

Sunscreen: stay safe in the sun with sunscreen that has UV protection as the sun can be incredibly strong at high altitudes

Eye protection: protect your eyes, especially when on the dunes and from the bright sun with the right gear (usually supplied by the company or purchased from reputable shops)

Layer up: winds can be cold at the top of dunes and mountains so bring long sleeve wind jackets that are fitted and windbreaker or comfortable pants for flights

Water: it goes without saying that hang gliding is strenuous, hard work. Be sure to bring lots of water, even on cooler days, to stay hydrated and feeling your bestSome of the best tips for newbies are to take lessons with Kitty Hawk Kites who run a training school. Start with lessons and go tandem (2 people) and work your way up to solo flights if desired. Kids can join and it’s accessible for those with disabilities. Anyone is encouraged to try flying over the age of 12 who wants to give hang gliding a try.

Hang Gliding Outer Banks F.A.Q.

Lessons can start for beginners around $100 per person. Advanced classes can run $150-$300 then there are training camps for those who want to become certified. Costs are determined by the training school so contact Kitty Hawk Kites or similar in Outer Banks for more information.

Outer Banks offers scenic, beautiful spots for hang gliding most any time of year. Ideally, late spring through early fall offer the best times, based on weather conditions. Off season times including Hangin with Santa or special events to encourage flying with others. Check weather reports and conditions before heading out for solo trips or use a local company who offers lessons and flights.

Parents and guardians should exercise good judgment when it comes to flying. The person should be no less than 80 pounds, ideally 100 pounds, and strong enough to control the equipment. Tandem flights are available for kids flights with a parent or legal guardian present to sign a waiver. Guests over age 18 fly waiver-free if they choose.

Anyone who meets the age and weight requirements can give flying a try. Hang gliding is a family activity everyone can enjoy. Children under age 18 need a parent or guardian to sign off on their flight. Everyone in the group must meet requirements for safety reasons. Hang gliding and flying high still come with risks so be certain all participants are on board. It is not unusual to have parents and children enjoy hang gliding together.