Daydreams. Childhood fantasies. Backburner wishes. These are the types of things we typically say we’ll get to “one day.” If you’ve added airborne adventures to your bucket list, this year is the time to make one or two come true in the Outer Banks of NC.
You can book biplane tours, hang gliding, aerobatic airplane rides, flight training, scenic air tours, and more with companies including Kitty Hawk Kites, Barrier Island Aviation, and others.
Classic Biplane Tours
Always wanted to soar above the sea just like the Wright brothers? Can you imagine the adrenaline rush they must have felt as they stamped their names into the history books of flight?
If biplane tours that recreate the iconic 1903 flight of these brothers is something you long for, book yours before you arrive in the Outer Banks. Because of the popularity, a lead time of several days to weeks may be required.
The open-air cockpit unleashes a different kind of rush for you (and a companion, if you choose) as you feel the wind on your face. Maybe you should put a checkmark beside your biplane tour instead of completely marking it off your bucket list because this is an adventure worth repeating!
Why is hang gliding one of the most popular activities to find on bucket lists? It mimics being a bird in flight. You are in total control of the glider as you swoop and fly wherever you choose. And, with the right training, anyone can do it.
Ask the company you book with about specific age limitations, but typically anyone from 4 to 94 can go (with proper consent). Physical limitations seem to slip away as you float, seemingly weightless, above the sea.
Tandem Hang Gliding
If the thought of going solo leaves you a tad nervous, tandem hang gliding might be a good first step. You and an instructor both mount the glider. You get the same exhilaration of solo flights, but with the security of knowing a pro is onboard.
Dune Hang Gliding
Ready to jump on and head off into the wild, blue yonder? Dune hang gliding starts with lessons, then puts you in the pilot’s seat your first day. If you believe hang gliding might be more than the fulfillment of a bucket list wish, this is the perfect way to decide whether investing in equipment is right for you.
Kids’ Hang Gliding
Have little ones that have already started a bucket list? If you’re constantly hearing “When will I get to hang glide?” it’s probably time to give in. This supervised option will give you peace of mind and allow your child to fly at low altitudes for short distances. Have your camera ready to capture the look on his/her face!
If the idea of scenic airplane flight sounds a little mellow, book an aerobatic tour instead. This allows you to mark the excursion off your bucket list with the best of both worlds.
On your way, you’ll get to see some of the best views of the Outer Banks area, including shorelines, lighthouses, monuments, and other notable sights. You could even spot dolphins at play, active sea turtles, or other marine life. Then hold your breath as the aerobatics begin.
What have you always dreamed of doing? Ask your tour pilot what’s s/he offers. Most offer heart-pounding barrel rolls, flipping the plane wing over wing as you swirl upside down then upright again. Are spins more your style? You might find yourself headed nose first toward the ground while spinning like a top.
Loops (think about rollercoaster cars that flip backward, head first) or zoom climbs that take you straight up… and up and up! Whichever aerobatics are available, they are bound to satisfy your bucket list requirements.
Could it be that your airborne aspirations are fueled by a desire to be a pilot? Controlling an aircraft all by yourself is an amazing feeling! If your inner thrill seeker has always wanted to learn to fly, make plans to get training during your stay in the Outer Banks.
Don’t have a military background or other experience with planes? You don’t need it. With a certified instructor, you’ll finally be able to lay the groundwork to becoming a pilot. What will your family do while you’re in training? Some flight training schools allow up to two passengers to accompany you.
Whether you’ve lived in the Outer Banks your whole life or are a welcomed visitor, seeing this region from the air is an entirely different experience. If your bucket list includes a desire to board a helicopter for a tour, what are you waiting for?
Schedule a short hop of 10 minutes or an extended flight for a couple of hours. Either way you’ll get a bird’s eye view of wildlife, landmarks, and nature locales plus loads of memories.
When you plan your next Outer Banks visit, bring your bucket list and prepare to strike a few adventures off.