May 19, 2022

50th Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular

The Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Spectacular is the longest running hang gliding event in the world! This year, the Kitty Hawk Kites Flight School is proud to be hosting the 50th Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular. Pilots and friends from all over the country are driving and flying to the Outer Banks the weekend of May 19-22, 2022, to celebrate this flying tradition. The 50th “Spec” is shaping up to be the biggest one yet. The Spectacular is only in part a competition. We’re really all here to celebrate free flight, hang gliding’s important history on the Outer Banks, and the many friends and affiliated pilots of Kitty Hawk Kites. We’ll break down the event into a little more detail here: 

Air Games

Hang glider being towed to altitude by an ultralight airplane

Thursday we host the Air Games at the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg, NC. Aerotow-rated pilots will be towed to 2,000 ft. by the one and only Jonny Thompson, then released for a smooth, safe flight. Pilots will be competing in a spot landing task. Safe landings matter the most – but the closer to the bullseye, the more points the pilot is awarded! This event is all about the pilot’s altitude judgment. Taking into account the wind direction and speed, the pilot must plan out their landing approach to put them as close to the target as possible.  

Dune Competition

Friday begins the first day of the competition on the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, a task very similar to the earlier days of this event. Pilots rated Hang One all the way through Hang Five will compete in a spot landing competition on the sand dunes. They must follow a course that zig-zags down the hill towards a bullseye. The maximum number of points for each flight is 50, and our goal is to complete 7 total rounds over the course of the weekend. If all 7 rounds are completed, we drop the lowest score for each pilot.  

Hang Gliding Film and Photo Festival

Friday night we’ll be hosting the Hang Gliding Film and Photo Festival at Swells’a Brewing in Kill Devil Hills. We’ll be exhibiting photos and videos from all 50 years of the Spectacular. This event is free and open to the public, we are excited to share memories with one and another as well as visiting Outer Banks guests.

Instructor Alumni Reunion and Woody Jones Memorial Street Dance

Hang gliding instructors on Jockey's Ridge

Saturday morning we’ll be out on the dunes again bright and early flying until dinnertime! After we wrap up we’ll head across the street to Kitty Hawk Kites at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing for our annual Instructor Alumni Reunion. Multiple generations of KHK hang gliding instructors will gather to share and celebrate decades of flying memories. Shortly after, we’ll have live music kicking off in the parking lot for the Woody Jones Memorial Street Dance. The band, the Simps will be playing everybody’s favorite jams until 9:30 PM.  

Rogallo Hall of Fame and Awards Ceremony

49th HG Spectacular advanced dune winners

Sunday morning we’ll get a few more rounds on the dunes in, then head back across the street for the awards ceremony. We’ll be inducting 2 pilots into the Rogallo Hall of Fame and thanking them for their many contributions to the sport of hang gliding. We’ll also take this chance to thank our many generous sponsors for their support of this event. Finally, we’ll be awarding the top 3 finishers in each division – Novice Dune, Advanced Dune, Aerotow – with prizes and trophies, marking the official end to the 50th Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular. We’re excited to see you all this weekend! 

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