A few months back a friend was telling me I should go skydiving and I never thought I’d be able to do it, but when I was in Fiji I decided to take the plunge, and was I glad I did…so exhilarating! So when this same friend told me he was going hang gliding, I ‘you tubed’ it and figured, why not go with him. He was going to be moving for a job in a few days and I thought it would be a fun activity to do before he left. He had told me about it in the past, and as much as I loved scuba diving, the thought of going up in the air and then having someone snap a cable connecting you to the plane was not something I thought I could do. However, after looking it up, I tried to compare it to parasailing in which you are up in the sky and feel like you’re floating while enjoying the scenery around you. I tried to forget the fact that for this, I’d be at least 2500 feet in the air and not attached to a boat.
When I told my friends I had done this, they remarked how adventurous I am. Maybe so, but I believe everything can be done if you are in the right frame of mind. Just because I did it, does not mean I was not initially nervous and scared. I was petrified, but also excited at the same time. My friend let me go first because he knew if I watched it, I’d probably freak myself out even more. He was right. However, as soon as I met Tom Atkins, the guy to whom I’d be tied, I knew I was in good hands. Tom has over 20 years of hang gliding experience and can land the glider on a dime if he had to (at least that’s what he told me!)
The process was very easy. I climbed into my pouch on the glider, which was tied to Tom’s and we tipped forward, getting ourselves to face the ground. The plane took off and we followed, slowly lifting into the air. After a gradual ascend, we were 3500 feet in the air. While climbing, Tom turned and chatted a bit with me which helped me feel very much at ease. There were handles on the side of him to hold onto. Then when we were at a height where we could play around, he separated us from the plane, which at first was a bit scary, but then it just felt as though we were floating, taking in all the scenery below. It was fun to see planes flying and landing below us, as well as the trees, birds, and highway. I can’t imagine how many car accidents have occurred with people looking up into the sky at the hang gliders! Once in the air, it was so peaceful. You have the opportunity to fly the glider yourself by pulling the bar closer to you and shifting your body weight. Then after a bit, Tom takes over, and does some fun tricks like a fast drop and a quick turn. Felt like I was at an amusement park in the sky!
When it was time to come in for a landing, we descended slowly as he monitored the drop rate. Then as we got closer to the ground, we felt the speed and hit the ground smoothly. Since there are wheels on the glider, you don’t have to worry about landing on your feet like in skydiving. What a rush and such a cool experience!! There is no reason to be scared and I think everyone should try it at least once! He was telling us he has taken people in the 70s and 80s hang gliding, so if they can do it, you definitely can! Check out the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xatSxY5F0c4