Have you ever wondered what it’s like to fly? Or what birds see when they look down at the land below them? At Hang Gliding Maui, you can finally find out. Originally opened in 1990, Hang Gliding Maui is run by Armin Engert and his wife, Karin. Armin is a certified tandem hang-gliding pilot and FAA-certified flight instructor who has logged more than 20,000 flying hours. He uses his expertise to deliver a safe, educational, and ridiculously fun experience to each customer.
It should be noted that this is not your typical hang-gliding experience. The company uses an Airborne trike, which is an Australian-built powered hang glider. This means that the glider has a small engine attached to the back of it. The engine makes it possible to fly even when wind conditions wouldn’t be ideal for a traditional glider. These aircrafts also feature a ballistic parachute system, offering an added level of safety.
Guests ages 12 and up can participate in hang-gliding lessons, which lift off from Hana Airport on Maui’s East Coast. Participants can choose from a 30-, 45-, or 60-minute experience. Sessions are currently offered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Flights will only go up if weather conditions allow, however the crew at Hang Gliding Maui estimates that there are about 350 flyable days each year, so the odds of a flight being canceled due to weather are quite slim.
A lesson will include training and a safety brief on the ground, followed by a tandem flight with Armin. If visiting with a group, you will all go through ground training together, but will be taken up one at a time. In the aircraft, the instructor sits in the front seat, while the student sits behind him. The seating arrangement is similar to that of a motorcycle… except in the sky. Once in the air, students will learn about weight-shift control, aerodynamics, aviation safety, and how the weather can affect flying.
The real draw here, though? The scenery. Reaching heights of about 4,000 feet, students will have majestic, sweeping views of land and sea. Depending on the weather and your flight path, you might see whales, volcanoes, waterfalls, and even some celebrity homes. An added bonus? In the right conditions, you may even get to fly through a cloud!
Additionally, Hang Gliding Maui provides everything you need to have a safe and comfortable ride. You’ll be given a headset that both blocks outside noise, and also functions as a two-way intercom system, so you can always be in communication with your instructor. You’ll also be provided a helmet and a flight suit. However, they do require all guests to wear socks and shoes, so make sure to come prepared with proper footwear.
If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime memorable experience to complete your Hawaiian vacation, this just might be it. Explore the sites of Hana and Maui from high in the sky and enjoy your time living like the birds!
-The hang glider has a wing-mounted camera on it. For an additional fee, flyers can purchase photos or video of their in-air experience.
-If you’re planning to be in Hana for an extended amount of time, Hang Gliding Maui offers sport pilot lessons. Aspiring pilots who are at least 17 years old, fluent in written and spoken English, and hold a U.S. driver’s license are eligible for this program. To complete it, you must log a minimum of 15 hours of flight time, and it’s recommended to do so within one month. This can be completed using the company’s aircraft, or, if you have one, your own.
-Because only one student can fly at a time, others in your party may find themselves with some downtime. For those in your group who aren’t flying, consider exploring Hana during the lesson. The lush area is home to several wonderful parks, beaches, farms, and more.