Hang Gliding over Amelia Island with Hang Glide USA

Although Amelia Island has a quaint, laid back vibe, I wanted to experience something that would get the blood pumping, so what better way to see the island than from the sky?! When I came across Hang Glide USA over on TripAdvisor, I knew I just had to give it a shot despite my immense fear of small aircrafts!

HANG GLIDE USA AMELIA ISLAND REVIEW 

Powered hang gliding, otherwise known as trike flying, is an experience in freedom and excitement that is unmatched. Flying up to a thousand feet or more, you will experience aerial views unlike any other form of aviation. With your hands on the control bar and the earth below, trikes let you feel the air and touch the clouds as you glide effortlessly through the sky.

Located on Fernandina Beach, Hang Glide USA provide breathtaking flights up and down Amelia Island, Florida. The owner, Kent, has been providing instructional powered hang gliding flights since 2011. Hang Glide USA pride themselves on their perfect record in the air. Their pilots are FAA Certified Flight Instructors and their vast experience, coupled with their conservative approach to flying, pays homage to their unparalleled safety record.

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

WHO? Hang Glide USA provides two types of flying experience over Amelia Island; an Introductory Discovery Flight and a Deluxe Discovery Flight.

WHAT? We decided to go with the Introductory Discovery Flight. You must be at least 4ft tall and weight no more than 220lbs to fly. No loose articles are permitted during the flight – this includes cameras!

WHERE? Flights depart from Hang Glide USA’s hanger located at the Fernandina Beach Airport in McGill, right next door to Hertz Car Rental. There is free parking available on sight.

WHEN? When you email or call to make a reservation, you will be provided with available time slots for your chosen day. The earlier, the better, especially given the temperamental evening weather of Florida in the summer. We took the 7:30am and 8:00am time slots. You are advised to arrive 15 minutes early to fill out some paperwork and get suited up. Advanced reservations are required and you can reach Kent via email or phone here.

MY INTRODUCTORY FLIGHT EXPERIENCE

I knew we were in for a good time the minute Kent opened his mouth; he was hilarious and an absolute hoot! “This is the only job where a gal will wrap her legs around you, scream, and then pay you for it.” See, a hoot! Need I say more?

Unfortunately for Kent, he wasn’t getting any leg-wrapping action that morning. Our pilot John, on the other hand, was buckling in one girl after another, and I was first up! John was easy on the eye, and Lauren immediately started planning their wedding in her head… Lance, our bartender from the Omni Hotel was quickly forgotten about. Poor Lance.

I had planned to strap my GoPro onto my wrist mount and take it up there with me, but both Kent and John advised against it in case it came loose in the wind. They were gracious enough though to let me switch their GoPro out for my own – they had a wing mount for theirs, so this worked well. I set my GoPro to take one photo every five seconds before mounting it.

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

I have an immense fear of small aircrafts, you know, those ones that have a single aisle of seats and hold a total of 10 people… only this one held two… and I had no walls or ceiling protecting me! I didn’t tell John this, but I did tell him I was slightly nervous. He assured me everything would be OK; “It’s my second day flying, we’ll be fine!” Haha, thanks John!

I was the first flight of the day, 7:30am, so we had to let the engine warm up for a few minutes. During this time, John and I decided to have a deep, philosophical conversation about life, you know, kangaroos, koalas, Foster’s and Drop Bears. He was completely amused. This helped me shift focus from the fact that we were seconds from take off!

In case you were wondering, you have a microphone headset with two-way communication between both you and your pilot the entire time. Even up high in the wind, you can still communicate effortlessly and hear one another crystal clear!

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

I’m quite positive I cursed during take off, but my fear quickly turned into astonishment. This was absolutely incredible. I literally had the wind at my fingertips and was feeling on top of the world! And wow, the picturesque, panoramic views of Amelia Island were breathtaking; like something out of a movie. I released the tight grip I had on my handle bars and held my hands out beside me a la Jack and Rose Titanic style. The feeling was one of pure happiness and freedom. In that moment, I was perfectly content with my life.

We flew right by the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort where we were staying. The place is huge so seeing an aerial shot of it helped put its size into perspective.

{Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort}

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

John was so great about pointing out landmarks and wildlife – he even circled the beach at one point so we could check out a pod of dolphin we saw swimming below us; so awesome! We flew right up to the Florida/Georgia border and circled back around at the tip of Cumberland Island – we even saw two wild horses running around there which was beyond cool!

As we circled to make our way back to the airport, we flew over the waterway that separates Amelia Island, Florida and Cumberland Island, Georgia. John was telling me that this is a nuclear-powered submarine passage and that a submarine base is tucked away in the marshland. The nerd side of me thought that was pretty badass. We flew over and had great views of Fort Clinch too. Fort Clinch is one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts in all of the USA. Although no battles were ever fought here, it was garrisoned during both the Civil and Spanish-American wars. That was my history lesson for the day. Thanks John!

You can see the Fort and some other amazing views in the images below.

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

{Fort Clinch below}

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

As always, all good things must come to an end and before I knew it, we were coming in for landing. We were in the air for close to a good 30 minutes though – great value considering this was only the Introductory Flight option. I was convinced landing would be insanely bumpy, but it was a lot smoother than I envisioned which made me happy. A perfect flight from beginning to end and one happy customer! I got unbuckled and traded places with Lauren; probably a good thing she got some one-on-one time with John before the big wedding, right? Haha.

 Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

Using my GoPro photos, I put together the below video of my hang gliding adventure. The video is made up of 450 photos that were snapped 5 seconds apart. This video compresses 30 minutes of flight time down to 1.5 minutes – not bad!

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TIPS FOR YOUR HANG GLIDE USA FLIGHT

1. Wear close-toed shoes, no flip flops or sandals allowed. Sneakers are probably best.

2. If you don’t have your own GoPro to switch out with theirs like I did, for an additional cost, you can purchase a video of your flight from Hang Glide USA.

3. Make sure you are aware that you cannot take a camera up in the air with you! Even if you have it strapped/mounted to you like I originally planned to do.

4. If you are prone to motion sickness, alert your pilot before take off so they know not to make any sharp turns.

Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review
Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review
Hang Glide USA Amelia Island Review

 

*Hang Glide USA kindly provided us with a discounted Introductory Flight, but all opinions are my own.

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