This is too much fun. Lucky buggers! Flying 100 feet…
Normally, I’m very afraid of heights, but I certainly got over that today. It shows how if you keep persisting at anything you’ll succeed.
And I had the greatest adventure experience of my life — going hang gliding.
Rocketing upward to a thousand feet on a metal framed kite with nylon material stretched in between, and me hanging from some straps. Zipping and turning through the rushing air, chasing a hawk, and peering face first at partitioned land far below.
It is a surreal scene, not an everyday sight I can tell you with the horizon, highways, and patterned farmland below. Your brain really has a hard time adjusting to it.
I could have put a video camera on the wing but decided not too because I didn’t think it was worth the dough they charge. Well, turned out to be an experience to have an HD video camera for, but we wouldn’t have gotten the hawk cause it was little camera shy.
I had only 3 practice flights with the big Condor training kites and I thought that was a bit of a ripoff, however there were 4 other people training too this morning. I had one good flight and another where I crashed pretty hard. Fortunately, I was okay and the kite didn’t get damaged. The aircraft aluminum they use is very strong. Here’s a pic of the big kites below:
The Tandem Flight
As I waited for my flight in the clubhouse, I read a newspaper article about an experienced hang glider who died there in 2006. That didn’t help ease my butterflies about going up. You’re only attached to the kite by a couple of straps and if you’ve flown a kite when you were a kid, you know they suddenly plunge, and you have no idea why. I was uncharacteristically calm through the whole thing. The instructor/flier Mike Robertson is very experienced and knowledgeable and I have a lot of confidence in his skills.
The Tandem kite was very sturdy and easily capable of carrying the two of us. We took off so fast, and soon there was only 1000 feet of the 2000 foot cable left and we were directly over the winch. I thought the cable would snap, and then I worried about the kite flipping upside down and we’d be hurtling to our death.
Mike saw a Red tailed hawk circling about 70 feet away and that meant there was a thermal updraft, so we chased after the hawk. We did a pirouette with it and it didn’t fly away. It just stayed on the other side circling opposite us.
Mike handed the steering bar to me and I got to follow a line of trees way down below. I was awkward but did okay. I was glad when he took control back. And then down we went, swooping down on the farmland grass. What a blast that was.
This is what it looks like from the ground.