Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to soar high above the trees, feeling the power of the wind and the freedom of a bird? Aviation enthusiasts have been building hang gliders since the early 1800s, and hang gliders gained popularity through the military, photography, and recreation. Modern hang gliding lessons allow thrill-seekers of all ages to experience the beauty of flight with no prior experience!
Hang gliders are typically constructed of an aluminum alloy or composite-framed fabric wing, in which a pilot is suspended from the frame and shifts his body to control it. When the pilot shifts his body, the glider moves that direction, allowing him to control the speed and the turns. The U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association requires instructors to be certified, and most first-time gliders take their first lesson with a tandem flight.
Although the California cities of San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles tend to me the most popular hang gliding destinations, FunSherpa offers safe and fun hang gliding lessons all across the country. Most hang gliding instructors will take you up to 5,000 or 10,000 feet in the air, and some flights span over 100 miles. These are just a few of the many amazing places to go hang gliding in the U.S.
Sun Valley in Idaho was actually one of last year’s Paragliding World Cup locations. This is a great place for hang gliding and paragliding for both beginner and experienced pilots. High desert plateaus, gentle foothills, and wide open spaces make for easy launch and landing sites.
Located near Salt Lake City, Point of the Mountain offers consistent wind ideal for hang gliding. The conditions are so perfect and predictable here that the “Flight State Park Recreation Area,” a park solely devoted to flying, was established. Winds tend to be smoother in the mornings and have more turbulence in the afternoons, providing updrafts for experienced pilots to try tricks and long flights.
Fort Funston is known for its world-class adventure sports, and hang gliding is no exception. The area’s mountains, coastline, sunshine, and updrafts provide for excellent flying conditions. Located just a few miles from San Francisco, this spot is geared towards experienced pilots who specialize in tricks rather than beginners looking to learn the sport. Expect spectacular scenery, stunning cliffs, and intense wind phenomenons.
Although the weather isn’t as reliable as in California, Pacific City continues to be one of the top hang gliding destinations in the country. Hang gliders began to flock to this region in the 1970s when California hot spots became too crowded. This is a great place for beginners to gain experience because you can take off from the gentle dunes, rather than jumping off a cliff to launch.
Feel the peace and serenity of the desert as you soar above the high peaks and low canyons outside of Albuquerque. There are two popular launch sites in the Sandia Mountains, and you can see even more spectacular views by launching from nearby Alamogordo, just three hours away by car.
Photo Credit: Konrad22 via WikiMedia; Jon Fisher via Flickr