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July 23, 2015

Hang Gliding Hawaii

Quitting your job to pursue a new direction in life takes a lot of guts.

For Eric Nakamoto, owner of Hang Gliding Hawaii, that new direction is up.  Literally.

In 2010, he quit his job, sold his condo, packed up his belongings into two suitcases, and moved to the mainland to follow his aviation dreams (you can read more about Eric's story here).

And in February of this year, his dreams were realized as he opened Hang Gliding Hawaii and began offering hang gliding lessons to visitors and kama`aina.

You know what else takes guts?  Actually going on a Weight-Shift Control Introductory Lesson on an Evolution Revo, a state-of-the-art flying ultralight powered hang glider (trike).



I admit - when Eric emailed me offering a free lesson on his powered hang glider, I was very, very hesitant.   And I mean VERY.  I'm not the young adrenaline-junkie I used to be.

However, after I read more information about what the introductory lesson entails on his website and watched the videos, did more research online, and read all of the reviews (you can read them too on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Google), I realized I couldn't pass up this opportunity.

On the day of my lesson, my husband and kids went along for the drive down to Dillingham Airfield West (I was too nervous to go alone and drive myself).

Eric was on a flight with a customer when I arrived at the hangar.  Upon returning to the hangar, my husband asked the customer how her flight went.  Her response was "It was awesome!"

Despite her enthusiasm I was still pretty nervous.

To prep for my lesson, I first had to sign a release of liability waiver.  I was well aware of the risks after doing my research (and anyone interested in a powered hang gliding lesson should do their own due diligence to learn about the risks), and during our safety briefing, Eric didn't sugarcoat the inherent dangers of powered hang gliding - especially since it's so weather-dependent and Hawaii's weather is ever-changing.

Safety is his number one priority, and he understands what's at risk as well.  He knows he can't be complacent - he always has to be on his "A-game," because his life, and his passenger's, depend on it!

For safety reasons, you can't bring anything on the hang glider - you'll have to empty your pockets to ensure you don't have anything that could accidentally fly out and hit the propeller.  That means no smart phones, cameras, etc.  Fortunately, Eric has two cameras mounted on the hang glider that takes photos and video throughout the flight, which can be purchased after the lesson.

I then put on a special flight suit and helmet. Eric went over a bit more about the powered hang glider and what to expect, and soon we were on our way (all photos and video below provided courtesy Hang Gliding Hawaii).

We're up in the air!
Going back down for a "Touch and Go"

Back in the sky - soaring above the ocean!

Once in the air I was not as nervous - but I still held on tightly to the seat
About to fly over the pineapple fields

Can you see Waimea Bay Rock?
Kaena Point

Throughout the lesson Eric explained wind patterns, the dangers of flying into clouds, landing, and so much more.                      

Of course flying over the North Shore of Oahu provided some incredible views  It was pretty neat to see the famous Waimea Bay Rock from the sky - it was so tiny!

The farm fields were quite a sight, and the shades of blue in the ocean were spectacular.

It did get a little chilly up in the air (he does offer gloves for use), and I'm not going to lie - I was pretty scared the entire flight, but it was exciting at the same time.

Because winds pick up as the day progresses, flights are held from sunrise to about 10am.

If the weather is not cooperating, Eric will not hesitate to reschedule you - safety is paramount.

In fact, I was originally scheduled to fly on an earlier day, but he called me the morning of to let me know that it was too cloudy and windy, and that we should reschedule (if you are visiting Oahu, it's recommended that you make a reservation for a lesson at the beginning of your stay - that way if weather issues occur, you can be rescheduled for later in your stay).

I still can't believe I took a powered hang gliding lesson and soared above the North Shore.

It was truly an unforgettable experience.



Hang Gliding Hawaii
68-760 Farrington Hwy
Waialua, HI 96791
(808) 222-9492

Click here for pricing information.  Kama`aina and military discounts available.



Thank you to Hang Gliding Hawaii for providing the introductory powered hang gliding lesson, photos, and videos free of charge.  All opinions are my own.

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