…for doing something stupid like that!
Those were the words of my father when I surprised my parents with the video of my hang gliding session.
Due to the blessing that is Groupon, a friend and I snagged some discounted tickets to hang-glide. Normally I don’t put my life in the hands of a discounted coupon. For some reason I let this personal rule-of-life slide. I am quite glad that I did.
I really wasn’t sure how it was going to work. All I really knew about hang gliding I knew primarily from watching Looney Tunes as a latchkey kid. Coyote carries/wears a generic-branded, haphazardly-assembled hang-glider as he runs toward and jumps off a cliff.
Being from Florida, I know it is quite flat with a severe lack of cliffs. Additionally, I am at all confident in my ability to run fast enough, while carrying a hang glider, to sustain flight.
Luckily Wallaby Ranch in Orlando, FL has a solution. To start off, I reasonably chose the tandem flight. I situate myself into what I would describe as a hammock for the largest banana conceivable. The instructor loaded into his very own super-banana hammock, And we were ready to go.
At the Wallaby Ranch, they use a system known as aerotowing. In aerotowing, there is a cable line between the hang glider and an ultralight towplane. The ultralight takes off and ascends into the sky, towing the hang glider behind it. When a certain altitude is reached, the instructor disconnected the cable from our hang glider, and the gliding began.
The question I’ve heard the most regarding this little adventure of mine is “weren’t you afraid?” Well no. I don’t consider myself a person who has a fear of heights. However I do
fall a lot have a healthy respect for the forces of gravity. There was no point that I ever felt uncomfortable or unsafe. It was quite peaceful and everything below reminded me of Legos. As I glided “up in the atmosphere,” I imagined it must be what it feels like to a bird – though without all that physical exertion, man all that flapping. That must be just the WORST.
After some gliding, the instructor explained how steering the glider worked and even allowed me to control the glider. According their website, the hang gliding sessions last for approximately 15 minutes, though it felt longer. As we finally glided gently toward the ground, the instructor guided the glider smoothly onto the ground.
If you are thinking of hang gliding, DO IT! It is a wonderful and peaceful experience that requires no athleticism whatsoever. Obviously if you have a severe fear of heights, it isn’t for you, but don’t let a mild healthy caution of heights deter you. The staff and everyone at the Wallaby Ranch was wonderful and I look forward to my next flight.