With stunning scenery and the spirit of adventure around every turn, it's no surprise that some of the UK's best hang gliding and paragliding is found here and with plenty of taster days throughout the year, getting quality airtime is easy.
The sport of free flight has come a long way from the early days of a few hops whilst sprinting down steep hills. Flights of over 100km lasting many hours are regularly made in the UK and the Dales, North Yorks Moors and South Pennines are amongst the best areas in the country for it.
Paragliders fit in a rucksack and consist of a comfortable harness for the pilot suspended below an arc of sailcloth that's inflated by moving forward into wind. They fly in light winds and are controlled by brake lines and weight shifting by the pilot. Some kits weigh less than 5kg now, allowing new variations of the sport like "Vol Biv" or Hike and Fly.
Hang gliders have a more traditional wing supported by rods and wires and fly in light to moderate winds. The pilot lies below the wing and controls flight by moving relative to the glider's control frame. Being more efficient in the air allows Hang Gliders to fly large circuits, often landing back at the car, or more commonly at a local "hostelry."
First things first, this is flying so training is definitely needed. There are several schools in the area that provide all the tuition you need to fly by yourself or in one of the local clubs. Often you could be flying solo within eight days and they supply all the equipment you need to get you started. You can take a day's course first to see if you like the activity before committing to a longer course. The flying season is mainly March to October. You don't need to be super fit and there are even powered variants (paramotoring & powered hang gliding) where you can take off on the flat.
Find out more about the sport and how to take it up from a school or one of the local clubs :
Once you're more experienced, you'll find plenty of flying sites around Yorkshire. The moors, peaks and crags of Wensleydale in wild and scenic North Yorkshire are a natural airsports magnet. Other dramatic flying locations, with magnificent views and drop-offs, are Model Ridge, Addingham, Scarborough Cliffs and the edges around Marsden Moor.
See you in the air!