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The Top 10 Most Fascinating Flying Devices that You Can Fly In

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of flying. Soaring above cities and towns, and looking down on the people, cars and landscapes as if they were millions of miles away, provides a rush like no other. But flying in planes and helicopters has taken some of the fun out of this otherwise exciting activity. You’re too far from the action. But fear not, there are plenty of other ways to fly, and some of them even allow you to be the operator. Here’s a ranking of the top ten flying devices you yourself can fly:

Flying Device
1 Jetpack We’ve all seen science fiction or space movies where people move around in jetpacks. These have long been a part of human imagination. Few have not been drawn in to the possibility of simply strapping something to your back and then being able to jump and fly around wherever you please.

The reason jetpacks have not made it into reality, though, is because for the longest time the physics just didn’t make sense. The amount of power you need to provide to lift someone off the ground is just too much for a device that straps onto someone’s back. And this doesn’t even account for how hard it is to then keep people stable once they are up in the air. Because of this, jetpacks have remained mostly in our imaginations.

However, this is slowly changing. Some developments led by NASA, along with a competition challenging people to come up with a way to make a jetpack a reality, have shown it’s not only possible to build a functional jetpack, but that it will likely happen. Successful prototypes have given hope to the idea that a jetpack could become a real thing in the not so distant future.

Unfortunately, though, the technology is still being worked out, and any available models are either prohibitively expensive or unsafe. But still, even the mere idea of a functional jetpack in this world is enough to get people excited. It is far and away the most exciting flying device you can fly.
2 Hoverboard Speaking of science fiction, the hoverboard is another flying device that was long considered to be out of the reach of humanity. But not anymore. And when you think about it, this makes sense. The science behind a hoverboard is a lot less complex than, say, a jetpack. In fact, hover boards have long been the focus of high school science classes and fairs.

But the transition from imagination to reality took place only just a couple of years ago. And it was also because of a competition. Essentially, some companies, such as Segway, got together and challenged people from around the world to help them make a hoverboard that was both safe and also economically-viable; they wanted to create a hoverboard people could actually use. And they did it!

They still might be slightly expensive for some people, but your average consumer can now get their hands on a hoverboard without too much difficulty.

Now there could be a debate as to whether or not using a hoverboard is actually flying. On the one hand, you’re not touching the ground and are free to move around no matter what’s underneath you. But on the other hand, you cannot get more than just a few feet up. Since this is something no person, and really no other device, in the world can do on it’s own, it’s safe to say using a hover board is in fact flying, and this is one of the best flying devices out there.
3 Airship Airships have been around for nearly a half century, but that doesn’t make them any less awesome. In fact, there just as cool today as they were when they first came out in the 1930s. Airships are blimps, and they are also sometimes called dirigibles. They are essentially large balloons that are filled up with some sort of gas that allows them to float far above the ground. There are rudders and some small motors to help steer it in one direction or another, but other than that, they work with very little power.

Airships get a bad name because of the Hindenberg. This was an airship that blew up in 1937 and came crashing to the ground in a terrifying ball of fire whose image burns itself into anyone’s mind who sees it.

However, this is a pretty unfair characterization of these devices. When the Hindenberg exploded, the technology was still pretty new, and scientists at the time did not have a very good idea what it was they were doing. The leading hypothesis suggests that the ship’s bubble was not constructed to properly distribute the static electricity it created. This caused an imbalance, which produced a spark. And since these ships are filled with light yet highly flammable gases, everything went boom in a hurry.

But this is all ancient history. Airships are still commonly used today, especially for things such as sporting events. They are slow moving and quiet. And this, combined with their ability to climb up to several thousand feet, means that riding in one will give you an unprecedented view of the surrounding area. This is one of the reasons these are some of the best flying devices out there.
4 Glider Whenever we think of flying devices, we inevitably think of things with some sort of a motor. Even the airship, which floats largely because of it’s giant gas-filled balloon, has a motor to steer and help bring it back to Earth. But a glider doesn’t, and this is one of the reasons it’s on the list as one of the best flying devices out there.

Gliders look basically the same as airplanes, except they have one major difference: they don’t have an engine! For some, this might be a signal to stay away. How could something like this ever be safe?

Well, it’s all in the design. These things are configured to be perfectly aerodynamic. They create their own lift simply with the shape of their wings and the body. In many ways, they’re actually safer. You don’t ever need to worry about an engine blowing up or some electrical failure bringing you to the ground. The only reason modern jets have such big engines is because they need to climb several thousand feet in the air and travel at speeds in excess of 500 mph. Gliders can’t do this, but they don’t need to.

One of the reasons flying in a glider is so exciting is the serenity of the experience. You start out being pulled by a much smaller airplane. You’re attached to a rope, so the experience is a bit bumpy, but after a while it’s not so bad. When you’re up to the right altitude, the rope is detached and the motorized plane goes one way and you go the other. You’re free and clear and on your own. Because there’s no motor, everything is completely silent. The only thing you’ll hear is some light wind.

At the moment you are cut loose from the other plane, you begin to fall. But it’s slow and gradual. Little by little you make your way back to the ground, and you land on the tiny wheels underneath the glider. It’s really a thrilling yet calming experience that helps make gliders one of the best flying devices out there.
5 Paraglider If the idea of not having a motor excites you, but you’re looking for something more thrilling than a glider, than a paraglider is a great option. This is as close as you’ll probably get to flying completely on your own, and this is one of the reasons why this device has made it into the top ten ranking for personal flying devices.

These things work like giant parachutes. To get up in the air, you need to start from a high point. Then, you basically run towards the cliff, and right before you jump, you release the large sail, and this catches the wind and brings you up into the air for a thrilling flying experience.

Once in the air, you have control over the direction of your glider. Handles at the end of ropes attached to the parachute allow you to pull the glider in whichever way you want.

The allure of paragliding is the combination of the thrill and chill. Running and jumping off the cliff is obviously exhilarating, but then once you’re in the air, things calm down quickly, and it ends up being a very calming way to travel through the air.

It is, naturally, a bit dangerous. Trying to paraglide in windy conditions can turn into a disaster quickly. And the landing can be a bit tricky as well. Without the proper training, you can easily end up getting to the ground too fast, and this can result in serious injury to you. However, you would never go paragliding without first learning how to do it, and these are still some of the best flying devices out there.
6 Hot air balloon Staying with the non-powered options, the next device on the list of flying devices for humans is a hot air balloon. These simple yet remarkable contraptions have been the centerpiece of idyllic paintings and photographs, but they are also a wonderful way to travel through the air.

The science behind hot air balloons is actually very simple. It relies on the idea that as gases are heated, they become less dense. The large balloon is attached to a basket. At the bottom of the balloon there is a hole, and right under this whole is a heat source. Essentially, this device heats the air inside the balloon, making it less dense. Once the density has dropped low enough, then the whole thing can lift off the air and float.

Traditionally, hot air balloons came with sand bags attached to them to help keep them on the ground. As they rose in the air, the person flying would drop these bags off the basket and to the ground to make it easier for the balloon to fly. Then, when it’s time to come down, all you need to do is let the air cool and you’ll slowly fall back to Earth. Again, this is a device you should use with caution when it’s windy or there’s bad weather.

Hot air balloons have been around since the 18th century. They were invented in France, and the first untethered balloon was flown by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d'Arlandes in Paris. However, just because they’ve been around for a long time, it does not make these flying devices any less exciting. Their loud once they get going, but then when you’re in the air, it’s hard to beat the calm that comes from floating among the clouds and coming eye to eye with the birds.
7 Powered Paraglider By combining the tranquility of non-powered flying devices with the mobility of an engine, the powered paraglider quickly becomes one of the best and coolest flying devices out there.

In principle, these things work very similarly to a regular paraglider. To get going, you need to start from a high point, such as a cliff or a mountaintop. However, these devices are much heavier and hard to move. The motors they use look like giant fans, and they are attached to the paraglider right underneath the center of the parachute. In front of the motor is a seat where you would strap yourself in.

The motor does most of the work for you once you’re ready to go. However, the parachute is still what creates all the lift. The motor simply helps propel you forward and gives you more control over the direction. You won’t be able to gain altitude with the motor, but you will be able to travel much further in one glide than you would with a traditional paraglider.

Some say the addition of a motor takes away from the charm of the paraglider. This will ultimately be up to you to decide. While it’s true the noise from the engine drowns out the silence you would otherwise experience when gliding through the air, the ability to stay in the air for longer and to travel further is something that you can’t get with a lot of other devices of this size. The powered paraglider is definitely one of the ten best flying devices out there, but go out and try one to judge for yourself.
8 Drone Okay, so this one is not a device you yourself fly in, but the technology is so good it most certainly feels like it is. Drones are unmanned aircraft. They’re kind of like RC cars, except they fly. They were originally designed for military use, and this is still one of their primary functions. But thanks to some advancements in the technology and the changing of some laws, these things are now widely available for commercial use.

However, not every drone is the same. The ones that make it onto this list of best flying devices are those that come equipped with cameras. This way, as you fly, you can see everything you would see from the drone through your monitor. You can use this to fly better, and you can also use it to make some pretty awesome videos. It makes it feel like you’re the one who’s actually flying.

Drones come in all different shapes and sizes. One of the most popular is the quad-copter design. It is designed in the shape of an “x” and has four different propellers. These help to give the drone its lift, but they also make it easier for you to steer it in one direction or another. The only downside here is that they are somewhat loud.

Another cool thing about drones is that pretty much anyone can use them. There’s very little you need to do to learn how to operate one recreationally, other than practice with the controls. But this may change. With the popularity of drones, airspace has become more and more crowded, and this has pushed governments to seek out regulatory strategies. There’s talk of requiring people to register their drones, and there has even been discussion about trying to establish some sort of licensing framework. When this happens, the popularity of drones may dwindle a little bit, but until then, they are still far and away one of the coolest personal flying devices out there.
9 BASE jumping wingsuit When you think of flying devices for humans, this might not be one of the first ones that comes to your mind. But then when you see how it works, you’ll quickly realize why a BASE jumping wingsuit has made the list.

BASE jumping is an adventure sport where participants essentially throw themselves off of high places. The word BASE is an acronym. It stands for the four places where you can jump from: Buildings, Atenna, Span and Earth (cliffs). People get to the top of these high places, and they simply jump. On the way down, they reach behind them and unleash a parachute so that they can slow down and reach the ground safely.

However, one particular suit lets you do a little more than this. The BASE jumping windsuit is a nylon suit that connects your arms and legs with a piece of material that will inflate slightly in the wind. When you jump, it expands, and this provides enough drag for you to be able to actually fly. Or at least it’s about as close as any of us will ever get to actually flying with nothing more than our own bodies.

It doesn’t last forever, of course. After a few minutes of flying, users have to pull their parachute cord anyway so that they can still land safely on the ground. But for those minutes where it’s just you and the sky, it’s truly a remarkable experience.

This is something only to be done by experts, as it can be very dangerous if performed incorrectly. But if you get the chance to try this out, you’ll quickly see why a BASE jumping wingsuit is one of the best flying devices out there.
10 Parachute It would be hard to make a list of the best flying devices without mentioning the parachute. But you could make the argument this category belongs to both the parachute and the body, as it’s ultimately you who jumps. The parachute only slows you down.

The history of the parachute is a long one. Some claim it was first invented some 4,000 years ago when the Chinese first realized air resistance could slow someone down who was free-falling from a high point. Various parachutes were invented at different times throughout history, but they didn’t come into mainstream use until around the time of World War I.

Part of the reason they started to become more popular was because of Charles Broadwick’s inventions. First, he folded the parachute into a pack, and second, he attached it to a static line that connected the pack to the bottom of the parachute so that he could pull it out after he jumped. Parachutes were also of keen interest to the various different sides of the war. They saw it as a unique way to get in behind enemy lines and to take a clear advantage on the battlefield.

Parachutes are still used in the military today, but they are used more for recreational purposes than anything. The first part of your journey will not feel like flying and will instead be simply you falling. But then when you pull the cord, you’ll slow down and you’ll have several minutes to float along with the wind and pretend you’re a bird. It’s a short-lived experience, but it’s exhilarating, which is why the parachute has made it onto the list of the top ten flying devices.

As you can see, there are lots of ways you can fly without an airplane or a helicopter. While they might take you a little longer to get where you want to go, the thrill and excitement they provide is unlike any other. We’ll see what humanity invents next, but for now, these are the top ten flying devices in the world.