Hang gliding is one of those pastimes that is both thrilling and strangely relaxing at the same time. But there is nothing like flying through the air in a glider, free of the whine and buzz of an engine or even the limitations of a cockpit to divide you from the world below. The vistas are breathtaking, and the adrenaline rush is incredible, making the whole thing memorable, even for those who have done it before.
While the activity appears to be incredibly hazardous, it is quite safe and a lot of fun. Commercial pilots go through hours of training before taking clients up in the air, and the majority are seasoned veterans with hundreds of flights under their belt. Furthermore, the glider is designed to be as safe as possible, making takeoffs, landings, and everything in between a breeze.
While a hang glider may fly well over a hundred miles in a single trip, most commercial excursions only cover a fraction of that distance. Plan to spend around an hour in the air and only travel a few miles, to provide you with an exciting and memorable experience.
If you’re finally ready to experience hang gliding, there are plenty of wonderful places to do it around the United States. Some destinations, as you might guess, provide a better experience than others. These are our top 5 selections for the best hang gliding spots in the United States.
1. Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Is there a better area to go hang gliding than Kitty Hawk? No, we don’t believe so! After all, if it worked for the Wright brothers, it should work for the rest of us as well. Hang gliding in the cradle of flight provides a special sense of fulfillment and joy. The Outer Banks’ dunes are ideal for surfing, and the winds are ideal as well. In addition, Kitty Hawk Kites, one of the world’s largest hang gliding guides and instructors, is based in the city, assisting both novice and experienced pilots in making the most of their Kitty Hawk experience.
2. La Jolla, California
There are numerous great hang gliding spots on the West Coast, but La Jolla takes the cake. Located close north of San Diego, the area is noted for its pleasant weather throughout the year, as well as strong breezes that aid with flight. If you take off from the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Black Beach below. You may even ski along the cliffs adjacent to the colossal granite faces as the California surf breaks on the coast. To begin your experience, go to Torrey Pines Gliderport.
3. Kahului, Hawaii
Hang gliding over Hawaii is one of the most amazing things you can do. The weather is nearly always pleasant, the winds are light and controllable, and the views of the island below are magnificent. Hawaii is a fantastic site to earn your wings, with beaches, volcanoes, jungles, and other beautiful terrains to float over, with Kahului standing out as particularly spectacular. There are many possibilities for taking a flight there, with several excellent outfitters ready to assist you. For anyone interested in giving hang gliding a try, we recommend Hang Gliding Maui.
4. Salt Lake City, Utah
You don’t have to go to the beach to have a fantastic hang-gliding experience, contrary to popular opinion. For example, Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of the best places in the country to enjoy the sport, while being as landlocked as a location can be. Of course, it compensates for the lack of an ocean by offering a plethora of spectacular mountain locales from which to launch a flight. There are also several excellent guides in the area that can assist passengers with the problems of taking their first flight. If you’re in the neighborhood and want to try hand gliding, stop by Nice Sky Adventures to get going.
5. Lookout Mountain, Tennessee
Lookout Mountain in Tennessee is one of the best hang gliding destinations in the south, with spectacular vistas, easy access, and pleasant weather for most of the year. It also boasts a fairly solid infrastructure to support the sport, making it a beginner-friendly setting with plenty of local pilots willing to teach novices the ropes. The Lookout Mountain Flight Park, located near Chattanooga, is the finest location for practicing and launching, with solo and tandem flights available all year.