This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
Hang gliding on the East Coast is an experience that you won’t forget. Learn about the best spots for gliding in North Carolina in this expert guide.
Planning a hang gliding trip but not sure where to go? You might want to think outside the box a little and consider going to North Carolina. Although it might not be one of the first choices that come to mind, it’s actually a gorgeous state that’s worth checking out from the skies. But where should you go hang gliding in North Carolina?
The two best hang gliding companies in North Carolina are Kitty Hawk Kites and Thermal Valley Hang Gliding. The best locations to launch a hang glider in North Carolina are Kitty Hawk, the Outer Banks, the Cotton Gin, and Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
For anyone that's looking for a thrilling experience and some of the best views in North Carolina, hang gliding is the sport for you! There are many great locations to go hang gliding around the state, but we've compiled a list of our favorites. In this blog post, we'll discuss the best hang gliding locations in North Carolina and what makes them so special. So if you're ready for an adventure, keep reading!
If you're interested in learning about the best places to go hang gliding around the country, this is the place for you. We're working on compiling a complete list of the top spots in all 50 states, and this article brings us to North Carolina. We combined our own experience of hang gliding in the state with input from other enthusiasts in the area to come up with the list below. This way you'll truly know exactly where you should plan on going in North Carolina.
Is North Carolina Good For Hang Gliding?
For a place to be good for hang gliding, there are three main things you should always keep in mind: the weather, the views, and places to launch. The weather is important because certain conditions are required for hang gliding and you don't want to freeze or get caught in a storm. The views are what really makes hang gliding worth it in the first place. And of course without launch sites or hang gliding companies, then it's tough (but not impossible) to take to the skies.
Let's start with the weather. North Carolina is a great state for hang gliding because it has a variety of weather conditions that are perfect for the sport. The spring and summer months offer warm temperatures and stable air, while the fall and winter months provide cooler temperatures and strong thermals. So no matter when you visit North Carolina, you'll be able to find good conditions for hang gliding (at least during most of the year).
Then we have the views. North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. From the Appalachian Mountains to the Outer Banks, there's no shortage of amazing views. And what's even better is that you can experience these views from a completely different perspective when you're hang gliding. So whether you're soaring over the Blue Ridge Mountains or diving through a valley, you're sure to be impressed.
Best Hang Gliding Companies and Launch Sites in North Carolina
Now that we've talked ad nauseam about how great North Carolina is for hang gliding, let's get into the good stuff. We'll start by taking a look at some of the best companies in the state to go hang gliding, and then we'll hone in on the best launch sites and launch areas that you can find around the state to take off and get up in the air.
You'll never see North Carolina from a better vantage point than you will while hang gliding. So strap in and get ready, these are the best hang gliding spots in the state.
Kitty Hawk Kites
The first company we're going to take a look at is Kitty Hawk Kites. They have locations in both the Outer Banks and near Jockey's Ridge State Park, so no matter where you're visiting North Carolina, they'll be able to hook you up with a hang gliding experience. Kitty Hawk Kites has been around for many years and is one of the most experienced companies in the state when it comes to hang
Kitty Hawk Kites offers training and lessons for people of all skill levels and ages, so whether you're a first-time flier or a seasoned pro, they can accommodate you. Each of their lessons takes about three hours and includes 5 solo flight training scenarios, so after just one visit you should have a pretty good idea about how to start to hang gliding, even if you're brand new. They also offer tandem flights for those who want to experience the thrill of hang gliding without having to go solo.
If you're visiting during the November-December time frame, you and your family can experience Hangin' with Santa. This is a unique event where you can go hang gliding with Santa Claus himself! Or, at the very least, you'll get to see Santa Claus fly in on a hang glider and then get set up for a photo opportunity. This is something that's just a little bit different than you'll find basically anywhere else, so it's worth checking out!
Thermal Valley Hang Gliding
Next up on our list is Thermal Valley Hang Gliding. This company is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, so if you're looking for some amazing views while you're hang gliding, this is definitely the place to go. They have a wide variety of different services and packages that they offer, so whether you're looking for a quick tandem flight or some short lessons to get you started, this company is a great option.
Thermal Valley Hang Gliding uses a tow plane and the aerotowing method of launching a hang glider, so you'll be towed up into the air before being released. This is a great way to get some extra air time and experience what it's like to hang glide without having to run or jump off of a cliff! They also offer mountain flying courses which will teach you how to navigate the thermals and currents that are often found in the area.
Prices for tandem flights here start at just $159, so it's fairly affordable for what you're getting. After all, if you're not an experienced hang gliding pilot yourself, then going on a tandem flight above the beautiful landscapes of North Carolina is something that you won't soon forget.
Now that we've talked about a couple of the top companies in the state that you can go hang gliding with, let's switch gears a bit and focus on some of the best launch sites and areas that you can go hang gliding at in North Carolina. Since we're talking about flying and we're dealing with North Carolina, it wouldn't make sense to start with any place other than Kitty Hawk.
As you might expect, Kitty Hawk is one of the most popular hang gliding destinations in North Carolina. It's also one of the most popular locations for first-time flyers and people who are new to the sport. That's because Kitty Hawk offers some of the best views and scenery that you'll find anywhere in North Carolina, as well as the Kitty Hawk Kites that we talked about above. When you're hang gliding in Kitty Hawk, you'll be able to see some amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, Jockey's Ridge State Park, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
The weather in Kitty Hawk is also pretty ideal for hang gliding, as the average temperatures in the spring and summer are usually in the mid to upper 70s. However, it's important to keep in mind that the weather can change quickly here, so always check the forecast before you head out. The fall and winter months see slightly cooler temperatures, but hang gliding is still possible during this time of year if you dress appropriately.
Other than hang gliding, Kitty Hawk also has lots of other fun things that you can do. There are numerous beaches nearby where you can go swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. If you're looking for something a bit more low-key, then you can also go fishing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding. There's also the Wright Brothers National Memorial which is worth checking out if you're interested in aviation history.
Next up, we have the world-famous Outer Banks. The Outer Banks is a string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that are home to some of the best beaches in the state. They're also a popular hang gliding destination thanks to the numerous launch sites and great views that you'll find here. From high above, you'll be able to see the beaches, the dunes, and the crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The average weather in the Outer Banks is pretty mild, although it can get a bit chilly in the winter. Spring and summer are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of the good weather and the numerous activities that are available. During these months, the temperatures are mild, the winds are great, and the thermals are exactly what you're looking for in a good hang gliding location.
If you're looking for other things to do in addition to hang gliding, there's plenty to keep you busy in the Outer Banks. You can go fishing, surfing, kayaking, or just relax on the beach. There's also a lot of history to explore in the Outer Banks, including the Wright Brothers National Memorial and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Without a doubt, one of the best hang gliding spots in North Carolina is what's locally known as the Cotton Gin, located in Jarvisburg. The Cotton Gin is located about 20 to 30 minutes from Kitty Hawk Kites and acts as the company's primary tandem hang gliding site. This goes to show that the Cotton Gin offers some of the most amazing views in all of North Carolina. You'll be able to see for miles and miles while you're hang gliding here.
This site is especially known for aerotowing, which is one of the most common ways to launch a hang glider. when a motorized plane tows your hang glider into the air. This is a great way to get some extra altitude and time in the air. The views even while being towed up into the air here are truly breathtaking, and you'll be hard-pressed to find better views anywhere else in North Carolina.
The average weather in the spring and summer is perfect for hang gliding, with temperatures rarely reaching above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the fall and winter, the weather is still good for hang gliding most of the time. However, it can get chilly at times, so make sure to dress warmly if you're planning on hang gliding during those months.
The Cotton Gin is located in Dare County, which is in the northeastern part of North Carolina. This area is relatively rural, but there are some other things to do nearby. You can spend the day hang gliding and then go explore the Outer Banks, the rest of Kitty Hawk, and other small towns nearby. There are great restaurants and shops in the area, so you'll definitely be able to find something to do after a day of hang gliding.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Rounding off our list of the best hang gliding locations in North Carolina is Jockey's Ridge State Park! This park is located in the Outer Banks and is a great spot for beginners. The views here are incredible, with miles of coastline to take in. If you fly with any of the top companies in North Carolina, chances are you'll end up here.
If you're heading to North Carolina in May, there is no better place in the state to go hang gliding than Jockey's Ridge. This is because, for the last half-century, Jockey's Ridge has been home to the Hang Gliding Spectacular. The Hang Gliding Spectacular is a festival celebrating the sport of hang gliding. The event features competitions, demonstrations, and plenty of chances to try to hang gliding for yourself.
Whether you're a beginner or an experienced pilot, Jockey's Ridge State Park is a great place to go hang gliding. The views are incredible and the atmosphere is electric. The weather is also usually pretty good, with May also being one of the best months to visit on that front as well. If you're looking for an adventure, Jockey's Ridge is the place for you.
Hang gliding is an amazing experience and North Carolina has some of the best locations in the country to do it. If you're ever in the state, be sure to check out one of these incredible spots. You won't regret it. Thanks for reading!