Hang Gliding Business a ‘Dream Come True’

Hang Gliding Hawaii

Eric Nakamoto has spent five years chasing the poetic but precarious dream of flying for a living, giving up a stable teaching job, selling his Aiea condo, and taking off for the mainland on a wing and a prayer.

“I had to seek training on the mainland because almost everyone currently flying trikes (powered hang gliders) here in Hawaii tried to prevent and discourage me from pursuing this,” he tells me. “I basically moved to the West Coast years ago with two large suitcases, an old Toyota Camry, and a pocket full of change, and slept in hangars.”

“I finally settled in Florida and spent time living in a trailer and flying,” he says. “I literally locked myself in a trailer, studied, and flew. That’s all I did. But I was free, I was flying.”

Nakamoto went on to complete a 2,500-mile cross-country flight from Florida to Wisconsin for Trike Fest and the Oshkosh AirVenture, flew into more than 40 different airports, and learned to navigate every class of airspace and in every kind of weather. With hundreds of flight hours under his belt and a brand new aircraft to his name, he finally returned to Hawaii late last year.

On Sunday, Nakamoto will host a native Hawaiian blessing for his new business, Hang Gliding Hawaii.

“It’s been a dream come true to finally fly out of Dillingham Airfield… the mana is strong at Kaena Point and Makua Valley,” he wrote on Tuesday. “We shall pay our respects to this sacred land that we are all privileged fly over.”

Nakamoto offers half-hour, 45-minute and hour-long flights in an open-cockpit ultralight powered hang-glider (described as a “flying motorcycle”), as well as photos, videos, and souvenirs for passengers.

“Now it’s time for me to share this awesome experience with as much people as I can,” he said. “The emotion they have after each flight is my motivation to fly… it’s what I was destined to do.”

Nakamoto is eager to tell his story, even offering a free flight for some good word of mouth. I confessed, however, that no matter how thrilling it might be, I’d be too scared to go hang gliding. As passionate as he was about the flight experience, Nakamoto was just as prepared for questions about safety.

“Powered hang gliders are considered to be one of the safest forms of flight — if the engine quits, it can glide down safely because it doesn’t need a motor to land,” he writes. “The aircraft is also equipped with a rocket-propelled parachute that allows the entire aircraft to safely reach the ground at a slow descent rate while deployed.”

His aircraft is a new Evolution Revo, a Florida-made ultralight trike that he says can cruise at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. As for qualifications, Nakamoto says he has a perfect safety record and describes himself as “the highest rated FAA-certified instructor in Hawaii,” with additional credentials for ground instruction and light sport aircraft repair and maintenance.

Hang Gliding Hawaii

Nakamoto offers flights seven days a week, all in the morning, weather permitting. He promises remarkable open-air views of Makua Valley and the Leeward coast, Waimea Bay, and Ka’ena Point. And if you’d like, he can even let you take the controls.

“This is the closest feeling you’ll get to flying like a bird but with the safety and comfort of an engine,” he writes.

Although he’s only been taking customers into the clouds since February, he’s happy to point people to his positive reviews on Yelp, on TripAdvisor, on Facebook, and on Google. One of the many five-star reviews was written by his dad, Ed Nakamoto. “My son has come a long way,” his father said. “I am so proud of him!”

Eric Nakamoto says he is looking to attract the “free, independent traveler” who’s coming to Hawaii and looking for a unique experience, but he does offer discounts for kama’aina (as well as for military, students, seniors, couples, and groups).

For more information, or to book a flight, you can visit HangGlidingHawaii.com, or call (808) 222-9492.

Hang Gliding Hawaii

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10 Responses

  1. Big Mahalo to Ryan Ozawa for this well written article on my company Hang Gliding Hawaii. Mr. Ozawa is commonly seen on Hawaii News Now’s Geek Beat. Ryan integrates his knowledge of new technology with the ever-evolving internet making him a Grandmaster of the Web. His true talent reflects in his writing skill. He has the ability to eloquently portray thoughts that come from the heart. Ryan, “You are truly a Master of what you do, I thank you for making this world a better place through your compassion and wealth of knowledge of what our future needs to thrive on.”

  2. Burt Larson says:

    Power Hand Gliding Hawaii on Oahu’s North Shore with Eric Nakamoto’s ultra light was incredible! What an adrenaline RUSH! I went up with Eric in his state of the art ultra light power hand glider! This machine is a work of art! With the latest avionics, this machine has a safety system that in case of a total engine failure, the pilot just deploys the rocket propelled parachute! And you float gently and safely down to earth. Everyone who comes here and all the local Hawaiian’s should check this awesome flying machine! Come see the awesome sights that Oahu has to offer, places and sights that can truly can be experienced from the air! Everyone should take a ride with Eric and see and experience the adventure of a lifetime and leave you with memories that you will never ever forget. Fly local! Fly with the best! Fly with a local company, it will make ALL the difference!

  3. Vern Lovic says:

    Awesome article Eric, and best of luck to you man. I linked to this from my site. I wish you the best with your business and safety!

  4. Joe Rose says:

    Hang Gliding on Oahu’s North Shore was an experience of a lifetime! Eric’s power hand glider was amazing! The flight was different from any glider ride because his ultralight was an open-cockpit. If you ever want to escape the city of Honolulu and see beautiful sights, check out Hang Gliding Hawaii and fly with Mr. Nakamoto on Oahu’s North Shore. Paragliding seemed fun, but I’m glad we choose something motorized because we had more control of where we wanted to go and cover more grounds. This ultra light adventure was unforgettable!

  5. Morgan Brown says:

    I had a FABULOUS experience!!!! Eric was amazing, he’s super inviting and welcoming. He gave me options and was so personable during the entire event! He was super professional and I watched him perform his maintenance which he was extremely detailed and thorough during his inspection. When we flew he made me feel completely at ease and the flight went amazing. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, it’s a wonderful experience that you should have at least one. I definitely want to do it again before I leave!!

  6. Akhenaten says:

    Come one and all and fly in the most sophisticated ultralight in Hawaii. Man! what a adrenaline RUSH! This aircraft is has a rocket propelled parachute that deploys should there be a engine failure. Should that happen the ultralight aircraft floats to the ground!
    This is the most technologically Advanced powered hang glider flown in the the pacific basin. Come fly around Oahu, and see and experience the visual beauty that is Hawaii, see and experience the side of Hawaii that will can only really be experience from the air! A ride with Eric will leave with memories of the experience of your life!
    Check him out at http://www.hangglidinghawaii.com

  7. I ration my stars very carefully, but this is a five-star experience. (that’s a period)
    Hang Gliding Hawaii? Loved it! This Monster Edition ultralight is should be in Honolulu’s Hawaii Five-O!
    “Safest flying, best view & 100% Safe!” There is only ONE http://www.HangGlidingHawaii.com ! My http://www.Hawaiian.com associate Daniel and I met the owner and pilot Eric and were so impressed we had to go and experience this ourselves! Breathtaking views unparalleled attention to safety, and a really nice man. Daniel and I both agreed were checking off a Life List today! Cleanest facilities, nicest and safest experience for our money! AND A 360 RAINBOW!!! You read that correctly, and in parts a double circular rainbow! You have to experience this with Eric on Oahu’s North Shore!

  8. AWESOME! If I would have to summarize this experience in just one word, that would be it!. Eric is just the coolest guy ever. But lets start at the beginning. We drove from Honolulu early in the morning, around 7am. The sunrise flight was already taken because we signed up last minute and of course the sunrise flight gets booked fast. You might want to book a few days in advance! Eric told us about his Powered Hang Glider. Apparently it is the best one on the islands. Safe, it has a $5,000 parachute for emergencies, with a 100hp engine as far as I remember which makes it faster than the other Power ultra lights on the islands and in bright green – it looks SICK! He calls it MONSTER. After I buckled up and he put the cameras in place to film the whole flight, we took off. We passed Haleiwa town, Waimea Bay and flew out to Kaena Point on the North Shore of Oahu. Even though it was a little cloudy that day, the views were breathtaking! It’s so beautiful up there. The ocean with its different beautiful colors, the beautiful sky over the island of Oahu and the shoreline – amazing view! The green mountains up on Oahu’s North Shore are beautiful to look at during the flight. Eric turned off the engine during the power Hang Glider flight. Everything is nice and peaceful and all you hear is the wind. He even let me steer for a few minutes!!! Of course his hands were always right next to …whatever the steering device of the ultra light is called. The landing was really smooth, too. After the landing we had time to talk story. He told me his story. This guy sold everything in Honolulu, his house, his car and furniture and moved to the mainland to get his aviation license. What a guy! I bought the Video and the photo footage and he sent it to me for free! Not to mention that I am wearing the Hang Gliding Hawaii T-Shirt on every occasion now ;) Seriously, for the people that don’t want to skydive and throw themselves out of a plane, this is the best alternative! Or you just do both. The Hang Gliding Hawaii for sunrise and after the skydive. It’s really close together – 5 minute walk. I highly recommend checking Eric Nakamoto’s website and fly with him. You can book 30 – 60 minutes flight. I did 30 minutes and I would have stayed longer but there was somebody waiting on the last flight of the day. He can only fly from 6am – 1130am because the winds pick up after and it would be a bumpy ride. So not a lot of glider flights per day. Make sure to give him a call a few days before you want to go up. I usually don’t do this, but since I had such a great experience I want to share his phone number so you guys can give him a call: 808 222 9492
    Or just go through his Website HangGlidingHawaii.com

  9. Hands down one of the BEST experiences of my life! Have you ever heard of a motorized Hang Glider? Me neither! Well at least not until I stumbled across Hang Gliding Hawaii! One of the best Hang Gliding in Honolulu that you will come to find, I mean, it’s essentially a motorbike with a hang glider attached, no more run off and jump, you can just cruise up into the air – just like E.T! It’s like magic!

    I had actually envisioned a Helicopter, so when I arrived I was a little nervous, but excited nervous, I thought “Welp, it’s not a Helicopter, but who can say they’ve been up in a powered Hang Glider?” for the sheer uniqueness, I was game!

    Eric is sooo lovely as well, he is all about the experience and making sure you are comfortable, confident and having the best time, pointing out little waterfalls, beautiful beaches, sharing history and knowledge of the North Shore of Oahu and even letting you steer for a little bit – that’s right, you heard me, I FLEW the motorized Hang Glider! How crazy cool is that?! I was so in awe the whole time it wasn’t until I heard Eric’s voice come through the aviation headset “Dude, you’re flying right now!” that I let out a big breath and a little squeal, “Oh my GOD! I AM!” I just couldn’t believe it, it definitely wasn’t what I had expected before arriving that morning, in the BEST way, it was soooo much more. I’ve done some pretty adventurous and adrenaline pumping things, but this was definitely a trump!

    When we were first getting ready I had to put on this full body suit, being Hawaii, I was sweating, but as soon as you get up in the air it’s like the best natural air conditioning you’ll ever feel. Not too hot, not too cold, just breezy perfection. I spread my arms out like a bird with it’s wings and closed my eyes, it was like I was flying.

    Have I mentioned the view yet? Let’s talk about this view. Of course, anything up in the air you’re going to have an amazing birds-eye view, but with Hang Gliding Honolulu, you actually get to enjoy it. Skydiving it’s more like “Wahhhh so pretty, I hope it doesn’t smack me in the face!” and you can get the same aerial views in things like a Helicopter or Sea Plane, but there’s a window blocking it, here, it’s yours to grab! And not just down below, but I literally saw a circle-rainbow and our shadow flying through it across the clouds. My silhouette has been in the middle of a rainbow circle in the clouds! Everything is beautiful. Everything is amazing. It’s this feeling of excitement and awe and after a while becomes really peaceful. Just gliding along, taking it all in, watching the sunrise above the clouds, full on Peter Pan-ing it!

    It’s definitely reasonably priced for what you get, you’re never going to regret it, you’re never going to say, “Man, I wish I hadn’t just had the most incredible morning up in the clouds.” – Said no one ever. You’re going to come off that motorized Hang Glider, laughing with amazement, holding your head in disbelief at what you’ve just experienced and doing as many high-fives, fist bumps and shakas with Eric as you wish! I would definitely recommend this. It’s unique, it’s safe, it’s amazing, it’s FUN! After all, isn’t that why you came on holiday? To have FUN! What are you waiting for?

    Check out my video of it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ5_wgpBXjo

  1. July 26, 2015

    […] in May, I wrote about how Eric Nakamoto put everything on the line to learn to fly, buy a state-of-the-art ultralight powered trike, and bring it back to Hawaii to […]

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