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Outer Banks Hang Gliding with Kitty Hawk Kites

Outer Banks hang gliding with Kitty Hawk Kites is the perfect way to add some adventure to your Outer Banks vacation. Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Training Center is the world’s largest hang gliding school, located in Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, NC.

Jockey’s Ridge is home to the largest sand dune along the east coast. Combine that with the breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean and you’re set for an amazing day of hang gliding in OBX. Whether you’re looking for hang gliding lessons for beginners or a tandem hang gliding experience, you’ll love this epic experience.

Outer Banks hang gliding.

Vacation. Vacations are my favorite thing. They give you the ability to forget your 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.

What a wonderful power vacations have. 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.

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 our Outer Banks vacation rental house (did I mention how much I LOVED the vacation home?).

Hang gliding on sand dune in the Outer Banks.

It was towards the end of the vacation, so I guess it was acceptable to try at least ONE adventure. But if I’m being honest, 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 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 surfing in the Outer Banks, I don’t typically say no to anything. I like adventures. This was no exception.

People taking a selfie on the sand dune.

When I heard that the The Outer Banks Visitor Center hooked us up with hang gliding lessons at Kitty Hawk Kites, I was pretty excited.

Then I discovered that 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 was 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.

Plaque at the hang gliding school.

Outer Banks Hang Gliding Lessons

We arrived for our hang gliding lessons with pretty high anxiety.

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 on this, I would’ve made fun of him for the rest of his life. I’m that kind of sister.

Three people walking on the sand dune.

Livea, who witnessed the shark with me during our surf lessons, was also extremely nervous for our Kitty Hawk hang gliding adventure.

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 – we were ready to learn to hang glide!

Group of people walking to the dunes.

The first course of action for Flight School was 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 helmets and geared up, which boosted our attractiveness to solid -5’s.

From there, we made our way to the Jockey’s Ridge hang gliding course on the dunes. It was time to fly.

Instructor and student preparing to hang glide.

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 much fun!

Hang gliding on the sand dune.

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 new experience.

Practicing hang gliding before take off.

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 have far to walk to get back up to the top of the dune!

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.

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.

Chelsea taking off in the glider.

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).

Man taking off in the glider with instructors running beside him.

About Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding

Kitty Hawk Kites is the place to go for hang gliding in NC. They offer beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons for ages 4 and up. They also offer tandem hang gliding and can accommodate paraplegics, blind, deaf, and other persons physically challenged. 

They provide all the equipment you’ll need and have taught over 400,000 students since 1974! Hang gliding lessons start at $109 and you can learn more at the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding website.

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 about our Seaside Vacations Rental in the Outer Banks to see how awesome our vacation home was and learn how you can save 15% when you book your rental home through Seaside Vacations.

Flying during a hang gliding lesson.

Tips for your OBX 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.
Person hang gliding.
  • Read all the directions that Kitty Hawk Flight School sends with your reservation confirmation, so you’re dressed properly.
  • Buy sand socks (affiliate link) and skip the shoes. It will keep your feet from burning, 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.
Several people walking with a glider.

Shout out to the Outer Banks for arranging our visit and to Nolan and Charlie at Kitty Hawk Flight School for helping us to conquer our fears and feel somewhat competent, even if we truly weren’t.

More Things to do in the Outer Banks

Things to Do in the Outer Banks
Exploring Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Why a Wild Horse Tour Should be on Your List of Things to do in Corolla Outer Banks
What’s so great about an Outer Banks vacation?
Learn to Surf in the Outer Banks

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