Where Can You Do Hang Gliding (and Is It Legal)?

There are a lot of amazing hang gliding spots in the United States (North Carolina, California, Utah, among others) and all over the world including Hawaii, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and South Africa to name a few. While it is not illegal to operate and fly a hang glider, there are laws regarding the sport, and these vary from place to place.
Where Can You Do Hang Gliding

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If it’s not a bird and it’s not a plane, then it must be a hang glider cruising in the sky above you. Hang gliding has been gaining popularity from thrill-seekers all over the world. The feeling that you get while you are suspended in the air can be addicting but you must always make sure that you are following the laws regarding the sport in whichever place you are in.

Is Hang Gliding Illegal?

Hang gliding is not illegal per se, but it is regulated differently in every country. Due to the extreme nature of the sport, governments in some countries allow it while some outright ban it.

Before owning or operating a hang glider, it is always best to talk to local authorities or review the laws of your community to make sure that you are legal to use your hang glider in your area.

Can You Hang Glide Anywhere?

You are not allowed to operate your hang glide anywhere since there are different laws regarding the sport in different countries or even different places in the same country.

For instance, hang gliding is legal in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (which is one of the best sites for this sport in the continental US), but it is prohibited in Staten Island in New York City due to certain FAA regulations.

While the activity is illegal in Staten Island, you are allowed to hang glide in Long Island or Jersey instead. The point being that hang gliding regulations may vary from place to place due to different considerations.

There are also some hang gliding spots which only allow pilots of certain skill level. As you improve and your skills go up a level, more places will be available for you to glide on.

What Country Banned Hang Gliding?

East Germany is the country to completely ban hang gliding. It started in 1980 in the guise of preventing accidents.

However, many historians suggest that hang gliders were banned to ensure that their citizens won’t be able to escape by means of gliding over the wall.

Do You Need a Permit to Hang Glide?

The answer to this question depends on where you are in the world since there are different regulations for this sport. You can even just be in the United States but the regulations surrounding this sport vary from state to state, and sometimes, even city to city.

For one, in the U.S., there is no need for you to secure a license to be able to operate a hang glider however there is an FAA licensing program administered by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). The program corresponds to the different pilot proficiency rating which goes from Beginner through Master.

But if you are going to a certain state, they may require you to secure a permit in one form or another. There are also many protected sites that you would need to secure a permit from before you can hang glide.

Where Is the Best Place to Hang Glide?

If you want to try to hang glide, you better visit these places because not only do they allow you to operate your hang gliders, the view above is also worth the journey.

  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Hang gliding flights often start from the Pedro Bonito, the jump-off point in the Tijuca rainforest, and end on the Pepino Beach. Sights on your flight include Rocinha favela, Christ the Redeemer, and Pedra da Gavea.
  • Interlaken District, Switzerland: Known as one of the best hang gliding spots in Europe, hang gliding companies in Interlaken even customize your flight to make sure that you have the best experience possible.
  • Kahului, Hawaii: While all the islands in Hawaii can be your hang gliding spot, Kahului should be your first pick because it will show you glorious sights including tropical forests, plains, cliffs, and the mighty Pacific Ocean.
  • Magaliesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa: Home to the Magalies Gliding Club, this spot is not only famous for the sport but for the many hang gliding enthusiasts that fill the place.
  • Queenstown, New Zealand: If you want to travel further down, you can go to Queenstown which offers both paragliding and hang gliding activities. Once you are there, you’ll cruise above the picturesque Lake Wakatipu and other scenic spots in the area.

Where Can You Go Hang Gliding in the United Kingdom?

If you can’t fly out of the United Kingdom to go on a hang gliding trip, fret not because there are several sweet spots to satisfy that flying bug.

  • Snowdon, Wales: There are many perks to being the highest mountain in Wales. For one, Snowdon has been voted repeatedly as having the best view in all of the UK. But most importantly, it is known as one of the best jumping-off points for some of your most fantastic hang gliding activities.
  • Three Sisters Mountains, Scottish Highlands: When you go hang gliding in the Three Sisters, you’ll be shocked by the array of amazing sceneries that await you on your flight. These sights include (but are not limited to) rocky formations, lochs and valleys, and mountains after mountains.
  • Can Hatch in Burgh Heath, Surrey: This spot caters to hang gliders of all skill levels due to its amazing flying conditions.
  • Ives, Cornwall: Not only is St. Ives known as one of the best seaside towns in the UK, but it is also an amazing option for hang gliders. It offers sights of the waves of the Celtic Sea and its rugged coastline.
  • Buttermere, Lake District: This spot is perfect even for the newest of hang gliders due to the climate in the area. As you fly, you will have a view of the valley of the River Cocker along with the waterfalls near the area, Fleetwith Pike, and Grasmoor among many others.

Do You Need a License to Fly a Hang Glider in the United Kingdom?

In the UK, hang gliding pilots do not need to secure a license to operate their gliders. They may not need a license but most pilots choose to be members of the British Paragliding and Hang Gliding Association (BHPA).

While a license is not required, hang gliding pilots are still very much regulated. They are expected to abide by the Air Navigation Order and to respect the airspace rules.

Where Can You Hang Glide in California?

Hang gliding is a popular sport in California. Wherever you are in the state, whether in Los Angeles or the Bay Area and any area in between, you will find a spot that is great for hang gliding.

If you want to learn hang gliding but you don’t know where to go, here are some popular spots in California to get you started on your hang gliding journey.

  • Northern California:
    • Ed Levin in Milpitas
    • Burney Mountain in Hat Creek
    • Lake McClure in Whatchacallit County
    • Mattole in Humboldt Country
    • Mission Ridge in Fremont
  • Southern California:
    • Andy Jackson in San Bernardino
    • Blackhawk in Apple Valley
    • Dockweiler Beach in Los Angeles
    • Lake Elsinore
    • Gunther in The Owens Valley
    • Sylmar
    • Walt’s Point in the Owens Valley
  • Central California:
    • Big Sur in Central Coast
    • Sick Rock in Porterville
    • Tollhouse
    • Dunlap

How Old Do You Have to Be to Hang Glide in Australia?

The Sports Aviation Federation of Australia or SAFA (formerly known as Hang Gliding Federation of Australia or HGFA) requires you to be fifteen years or older to be a certified hang glide pilot in Australia. If you are younger than 18 years, you are required to secure a written consent from your parents.

The SAFA is the body overseeing that flight aviation sports including hang gliding, paragliding, and weight shift microlights are being conducted in a safe manner. They provide training and certification to people who want to get started on the sport.

If you are a new member (especially if you are a minor) or you are a visitor wanting to try hang gliding in Australia, the law of the land requires you to secure a current SAFA membership along with a third party insurance (which is compulsory and not optional) before you are allowed to operate and fly your hang glider.