Did you know you can learn to hang glide at the world’s largest hang gliding school in the Outer Banks? Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head is the largest dune along the east coast, combine that with the breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean and you’re set for a pretty epic adventure, whether you’re looking for hang gliding for beginners or tandem hang gliding in the outer banks, Kitty Hawk Kites’ Hang Gliding Training Center can hook you up.
Vacation. Vacations are my favorite thing. They give you the ability to forget your entire stressful life for a whole week.
Forget your daily schedule.
Forget your clean eating diet.
Forget what day it is.
Forget your first name.
Forget your last name.
Forget your entire life before your vacation.
What a wonderful power vacations have. In all honesty, if it were up to me, I would do nothing on vacation. Not a single thing. I’d sleep in until noon (what a wonderful concept) and do zero. Nada. Nothing. My recent vacation was very much like that. I swam, got tan, drank margaritas and spent time with my favorite family. I don’t know how she did it, but my mom somehow convinced all of us to forgo the blissful act of doing nothing and actually leave the vacation house for one activity (did I mention how much I LOVED the vacation home?) It was towards the end of vacation, so I guess it was acceptable but if I’m being honest with you, and of course I am, this activity was the very last thing I wanted to do.
I had become lazy and unmotivated from the week of complete and utter relaxation and wanted nothing more to do than stay in my bikini, in the pool, at our beautiful house. But, I went. I went because I knew I needed to experience it and because if I were to die I wouldn’t have to return to work on Monday. It was clearly a win-win situation. Like I mentioned in the post I wrote last year about my surfing experience with Kitty Hawk Kites, I don’t typically say no to anything. I like adventures. This was no exception.
By now you’re probably curious as to what the surprise adventure was, am I right? The Outer Banks Visitor Center hooked us up with hang gliding lessons at the world’s largest hang gliding school, Woohoo! Funny thing- up until the week of vacation I had confused hang gliding with parasailing- a big oops! In my mind, I was going to be parasailing with someone else strapped with me, safely hooked onto a boat. Then my mom explained to me that we would be hang gliding, alone. Not strapped to anyone. Though tandem hang gliding is available that is not what we were doing. Nuts. Well, I’ve been skydiving before, so I figured if I could jump out of a plane I could probably jump off a dune.
LEARN TO HANG GLIDE AT KITTY HAWK KITES’ HANG GLIDING TRAINING CENTER
This is how it all went down. We show up for our hang gliding training with anxiety pretty high. Josh, my older brother who missed out on last year’s vacation and chickened out of skydiving with me because he’s afraid of heights, was pretty terrified by hang gliding. Funny because this dude is trained to squeeze through tight spaces and rappel down dark elevator shafts for a living. If he would’ve chickened out of this, I would’ve made fun of him for the rest of his life. No joke. Livea, who witnessed the shark with me during surfing, was also extremely nervous. Basically, we just all thought we were going to die. Which is dramatic to say the least, figuring we’re just jumping off the largest dunes along the east coast, but whatever.
The first course of action for Flight School is to watch a video to learn what we needed to do and how we needed to position ourselves. Then we headed outdoors, donned our hang gliding helmet and geared up, which boosted our attractiveness to solid -5’s. From there, we made our way to the hang gliding course on the dunes. It was time to fly. I’m not gonna lie. Climbing up the dune was killer. After walking up once, I dreaded the thought of walking up that dune multiple times. But, I survived and can honestly say it was all worth it. Once I got past the fact that I was terrible at hang gliding and pretty much everyone else was too, it was SO fun!
Our instructors (shout out to Charlie & Nolan) were absolutely AMAZING and so nice. They both completely ignored the fact that my entire family was completely awful, except for dad who has a janky knee and still performed better than us. They encouraged us and pretended like we were awesome. They were extremely personable and made everyone feel comfortable with this foreign experience.
We flew down the dune a total of 5 times, which I feel is a solid amount of time. It was enough to realize we sucked, enough to realize what we were doing wrong, and enough to realize I should hit more cardio machines and fewer weights at the gym. The first flight down (if you can even call it that) was pretty bad across the board. Nobody really made it very far, which had its perks since we didn’t really have far to walk to get back up to the top of the dune! but after that, every flight felt more and more comfortable. I can’t claim to be a pro by the end of the hang gliding lesson, that’s for sure, but I was no longer afraid of going face first in the sand. I can probably speak for everyone in my family by saying we would absolutely do this again (except for Livea, she would definitely NOT do it again unless it was much cooler outside).
NOW FOR A FEW TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST HANG GLIDING LESSON:
- Make your reservation for the Kitty Hawk Kites’ Hang Gliding Training Center at the beginning of your vacation. Hang gliding relies heavily on the weather. If the weather isn’t cooperating, you’re not going out so allow plenty of time to reschedule if needed.
- Pack your sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm and plenty of water. You’re going to need them all.
- Prepare to hike. Walking up those dunes is no joke, especially in the heat but you can go at your own pace which is super helpful.
- Read all the directions that Kitty Hawk Flight School sends with your reservation confirmation, so you’re dressed properly.
- Buy sand socks and skip the shoes. It will keep your feet from heating up, allow greater ease when running in the sand, and save you from trying to get all the sand out of your tennis shoes later.
- Don’t forget to tip your instructors who not only encourage you, so you feel somewhat confident, but they also lug the hang glider back UP the dune after each flight. People, we are a family of five, we each went down the hill five times. Do the math. And to think, I thought walking up the dune five times was rough.
Kitty Hawk Kites offers several lessons including hang gliding for beginners and they provide all the hang gliding equipment you’ll need. To find out how old you have to be to hang glide, how much does it cost to hang glide and for more information on Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding and hang gliding Nags Head dunes at Jockey’s Ridge, visit their listing. Kitty Hawk Kites is also an Official Seaside Vacations sponsor which means guests of Seaside Vacations can receive discounts on hang gliding lessons, kayaking and more. Read Seaside Vacations: Vacation Rentals in the Outer Banks to see how awesome our vacation home was.