For most of my life my family has vacationed down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Hatteras Island. Each year we’d pass the massive sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge and see the people learning how to hang glide and each year I’d say “I want to learn to do that.” When you’re a kid you don’t have much control over your pocketbook (or your destiny for that matter), so I never had the chance.
When I grew older, it was a time thing, we’d pass the flight school at Kitty Hawk Kites and I’d still say “I want to learn that,” but then get concerned about the time it would take. So, when we saw Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding hosting a demo at the Travel and Adventure Show in DC in March I just had to take a turn. Beforehand I spoke with the instructor about why people have a fascination with this kind of flight.
He also said one of the best things is that hang gliding is for all ages and athletic ability levels. The youngest person he taught was only three years old and the oldest was ninety-three, making my middle-age status no excuse. I slipped on the harness and let myself hang, in this case only a few feet from the ground. He said for a sport that seems very adventurous it’s quite easy to pick up and the computer demo would easily prove it.
I won’t say I was great, but the fundamentals seemed pretty easy. You subtly push your body to the side the triangle you want to go to and push up and back for up and down. I have to say that the trepidation I had felt for the real thing faded fast and was already planning on how to squeeze the real thing into our next trip to the beach.
The practical side in me was also worried about investing in the sport (gear and harness that Walter says you can find used and in great condition). Where was I going to go, would we have to spend all our time on the dunes of Jockey’s Ridge?
The beginners lesson on Jockey’s Ridge costs $99 for about three hours. The more advanced lessons that take place about an hour inland at the Currituck County Airport where you soar to 2,000 feet start at $149. But, I imagine like many things if you’ve been bit by the bug, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
So if you want to take a leap of faith however small give it at try, because how cool does it sound to say “yeah, I hang glide”?