In the 10 to 15 minutes you spend hang gliding 2,000 feet above Currituck County, life’s problems and challenges just drift away.
Here, the region’s renowned beauty brings about a new perspective. At your wingtip, you may be gliding alongside a hawk or an eagle. In the distance, you can see the vast Atlantic, the shallow waters of the Currituck Sound, and the string of barrier islands which comprise North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
The hang gliding trip, an escape into nature, illustrates why people return year after year to the Currituck Outer Banks for their summer beach vacation: there are few places like it in the world.
Today, you can experience this view for yourself, even if you’ve never gone hang gliding. Tucked behind The Cotton Gin gift shop at 6957 Caratoke Highway in Jarvisburg , Kitty Hawk Kites offers tandem hang gliding lessons for $159.
“We have some of the best sunsets you’ll see on the planet,” said Bruce Weaver, who runs the hang gliding school at Kitty Hawk Kites. “If you get up in the air right at sunset, it’s pretty incredible.”
Hang gliding itself creates a sense of freedom and awe.
“It feels like when you’re flying in your dreams,” said Weaver, who’s also vice president of recreation at Kitty Hawk Kites. “It’s effortless. It’s a phenomenal experience.”
Anyone over the age of 10 who weighs no more than 235 pounds can take a hang gliding lesson with a seasoned pilot. The tandem hang gliding lesson is also handicapped accessible. Kitty Hawk Kites can accommodate people who are blind, hearing impaired or normally require the use of a wheelchair.
Use your mouse to see a 360-degree view of Currituck!
With an impeccable safety record, Kitty Hawk Kites employs some of the most skilled hang gliding instructors. During a tandem flight, the instructor is in charge of the hang glider; the passenger’s job is to simply hold on, lie still and enjoy the view.
Both pilot and passenger each lie in a secured harness with the passenger directly above the pilot. “It feels like you’re lying in a hammock,” Weaver said.
An ultralight airplane tows the hang glider into the air using a 250-foot line. Once the hang glider is high enough, the instructor releases the line and the airplane flies away leaving the hang glider to gently make its descent to the ground.
It may seem that you’re flying far away, but the hang glider stays within a mile of where it takes off.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself flying with the locals. Currituck County, which is part of the Atlantic Flyway, is home to many species of birds including bald eagles, ospreys and egrets.
“We look for birds when we’re flying,” Weaver said. “They lead us into more lifting air.”
Reservations are recommended for all hang gliding trips. Aside from the tandem hang gliding lessons in Currituck, Kitty Hawk Kites also offers lessons at Jockey’s Ridge Stage Park for those who want to learn how to hang glide on their own. Call (877) 359-8447 to make reservations.
For more summer activities on the Currituck Outer Banks download our free visitors’ guide.