Adventurers have long sought the stomach-dropping sensation of a bungee jump or the excitement of a skydive, but what's next on the horizon for heights-loving daredevils? These nine aerial experiences will test your will and send you to the clouds.
Microlight Flight: Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
This microlight plane—a small, two-person jet run by Batoka Sky in Zambia—is manned by an experienced pilot and seats one passenger in the back. The aerial contraption looks like a flying tricycle with a parachute. It can travel up to 4,500 feet above ground, offering for breathtaking views of the “smoking” Victoria Falls and Zambezi River gorge. Cameras are not allowed during the flight, but there is a wing-mounted digital camera that captures side-angle views.
Bubble Tram: Guangzhou, China
The Canton Tower, which rises high above Guangzhou, China, at 1,959 feet, is home to a stunning indoor observatory and a massive outdoor observation deck, but the real excitement comes when visitors step out a bit farther. The Bubble Tram—a horizontal Ferris wheel set 1,493 feet from the ground—rotates around the tower. Inside one of the 16 spherical cabins, you can take in an unobstructed panoramic view of the city.
1929 Travel Air Biplane: OshKosh, Wisconsin
At the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh Wisconsin, there are more than 40 vintage aircrafts on display. Not only can visitors wander past the planes on land, from May to October guests can take 15-minute flights in an original, restored 1929 Travel Air E-4000 biplane. This particular biplane has an open cockpit, which adds an extra layer of drama to the flight. There’s little need to reserve your flight in advance, so just head to the museum’s Pioneer Airport and get ready to take off from its green, grassy runway.
Take Flight Adventure Course: Kittery, Maine
This adventure course, located in Maine near the New Hampshire border, is home to over 65 challenging aerial elements, including telephone poles to climb, ropes to span, and tires to traverse. With a ticket to the site, you can navigate catwalks, bridges, and wooden platforms. For an extra fee, you can conclude your day of adventure with a cable-assisted free jump off an eight-foot platform.
Mountain Zip Line: Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire
Unlike the standard zip line, where you step through a harness, Wildcat Mountain’s ZipRider was designed for passengers to sit upright in a fabric, chair-like contraption. For a novice, this might be a less daunting way to experience the thrilling activity. Riders travel along cables suspended at heights up to 70 feet on a 12-percent grade. At that incline, the ZipRider can speed down the mountain at up to 45 miles per hour. From the summit of the Wildcat Ski Area to the landing platform at the Main Base Lodge, riders will take in the verdant landscape of the mountain, check out trails through the forest, and spot the Peabody River.
Skyslide: Los Angeles, California
This see-through slide, made from a thick panel of glass and set nearly 1,000 feet above the ground, begins at the 70th floor of the the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles. To start the experience, guests meander through a dark, serpentine hallway of interactive exhibits, finally making their way to a 360-degree observation area flanked by two of OUE Skyspace’s terraces. After hopping on a mat, you’ll glide 45 feet around the outside of the building and land at its 69th-floor terrace—catching perfect views of the city from start to finish.
Power Free Fall: Banning Mills, Georgia
Designed by German engineers, the High Rescue device used by Historic Banning Mills allows visitors to experience a controlled free fall from 100 feet inside the woody adventure park. Unlike a bungee cord jump, you'll be strapped into a climbing harness and lowered using a self-contained system using DROPE, a polyethylene rope that has twice the amount of tensile strength as a wire rope. To get to the starting platform, you’ll have to take on another adventure—gliding along a zip line above the preserved gorge on Georgia’s Snake Creek.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Tree Canopy Pedaling: Glen Sutton, Quebec
Biking meets the treetops at the innovative Quebec-based Au Diable Vert. The organization takes visitors through the forest canopy during their VéloVolant experience. The “flying bicycles” travel as quickly or slowly as you can pedal and moves across a high-performance cable, which was installed in the mature maple and hemlock forest by a group of specially trained riggers, climbers, and arborists over six months. You’ll start off close to the ground, but due to the steep pitch of the mountain-side site, you’ll pedal up to 100 feet into the air. The 3,281-foot circuit brings you clear above the Missisquoi River, through forest canopies, and over a panoramic view to Vermont’s Jay Peak.
Soaring With the Warbirds: Madras, Oregon
This trip in the clouds isn’t just about the thrill, it’s a way to fly through history. At the Erickson Aircraft Collection, a museum-like collection of over 20 rare, historical planes in Madras, Oregon, visitors can peek into aviation's past. It's worth the trip to look at the aircrafts from the ground, but the greatest excitement will come from flying in one with a pilot. Sign up for the collection’s “Soaring With the Warbirds” experience, and take flight in a one of three World War II planes open to guests. Book a ticket on a PT-17 Stearman, AT-6 Texan, or Douglas DC3 and fly high above Lake Billy Chinook, Mount Jefferson, or Smith Rock during your 20-minute adventure.