Budget airline Hong Kong express has just announced a new ‘route’ that takes off and lands in exactly the same location — Hong Kong. This comes after more and more people in the city are having ‘staycations’, where people stay at a hotel in their home city, and similar schemes by Qantas Airways in Australia, and Singapore Airlines in Singapore. While the tickets for Qantas’s flight experience sold out within 10 minutes, Singapore Airlines was forced to cancel due to the public opposing the unnecessary environmental harm that would incur.
This flight experienced, named ‘UOFlycation’ by the company, will start on November 1 and have a total of three flights. Details about price, flight path, and practical matters, such as if airport COVID-19 measures have to be followed as if passengers flew in from another country, have yet to be announced.
Flying by plane might not be your thing, or you might not get the appeal of these flights to nowhere. So, here are five additional ways to experience flying right here in Hong Kong, from the cheapest to most expensive.
Flight Simulation Mobile Games
There are a plethora of games that allow you to assume the job of a pilot on Mac, PC, iOS, android, you name it. They offer controls for movement, speed, and landing gear, for example. Best of all, you get to play from the comfort of your own home, and there are many free options for these flight simulation games as well.
Flight Simulator Experience
Fight simulation mobile games on steroids. Sums it up really.
You can still play through different scenarios, fly in different locations like in games, but you are sat in a model cockpit which acts as the controllers for the game. At Aero 320, for example, they offer flight experiences like ‘flying’ and landing at the infamously challenging Paro Valley, being Captain Sully and landing a plane with failed engines, and a blast to the past —taking off from Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport and flying through the city.
It is significantly more expensive than ‘free’ at HKD$1300 for 30 minutes, but a much more realistic and satisfying experience for aviation enthusiasts.
Believe it or not, you can go paragliding in Hong Kong. Time to time, you can see groups of people in the skies of Ma On Shan and Sai Kung, or see people trekking up mountains with huge backpacks. They are part of the 200 paragliders in Hong Kong, of which some offer tandem flights to your average joe without any previous experience. In tandem paragliding, you get strapped in front of a seasoned paraglider, and they will do the rest as the two of you get swept away by the wind. Unlike in many overseas countries, however, the only way to the paragliding site is by foot.
Ascendia Sports is a company that offers tandem flights for HKD$2,300. Or, if you ask someone in the community nicely, perhaps someone would take you under their wing, literally!
First-person view (FPV) Drones
When you think of drones, your mind would go one of three ways. DJI, racing drones, and military drones (ahem ‘Murica). One that is far less popular but has been gaining traction in recent years is FPV Drone racing, though these drones have other uses as well. Instead of using your phone as a monitor, you use FPV goggles, and get a first person view of the drone while it’s in flight. Sprinkle in a bit of imagination and immerse yourself into the world your eyes perceive, and you gain the power of flight!
Before you go out and buy your own FPV drone, however, do be aware of the drone (officially called Unmanned Aircraft Systems or UAS) laws in Hong Kong, a link of which will be attached to the end of this article. According to the Civil Aviation Department, FPV drones are not allowed, as they do not comply with the regulation that requires the drone operator to “keep the UAS within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) during the period of the flight”. That said, there are a number of FPV drone associations that hold both indoor and outdoor races.
The price of these drones vary quite significantly, but for reference, DJI sells a kit including FPV goggles and everything you need to make ‘normal’ drones into a FPV drone for HKD$6499.
Last and definitely not least on the list is helicopter flights. Provided by Heliservices HK, there are a number of flight options you could take, choosing between views in Hong Kong Island, Big Buddha, Geopark, and more. All flights start from the helipad on the Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, which is affiliated with Heliservices HK, and there are packages that include both hotel services and a helicopter ride, for example the ‘Fly and Dine’ package that would set you back around HKD$14,000 for two depending on the restaurant you choose.
Definitely boujee, but why not do something bucket-list worthy instead of going on a staycation?
Are there more ways to experience flight when you’re stuck in Hong Kong? What’s your favourite? Leave a reply below!
The government regulations on flying drones can be found here.
(Featured image/Kevin Burton, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)