My birthday was a few weeks ago and it was great! Although very low-key. Had a BBQ with lots of friends and lots and lots of food. Also, at the same time, I found myself remembering what my friends had done for me last year. You see, they are not so much the giving type, they are more the ‘experience’ type, so they are more likely to take out and have an experience than buying you, say, a bottle of champagne. So last year, they all got together and setup an awesome hang gliding excursion for my birthday.
We drove about an hour out of town, heading east into the middle of now where. Except of course a hang gliding school!
If you have never tried it, you should. It was amazing! You are 4,500ft high. Being held up by nothing but passing streams of air. It is quiet, thoughtful, zen-like… unless you have an instructor who likes to scare the living daylights out of you and will swan-dive right before you hit the ground. Ah, good times.
Now, I think the whole experience is made far more scary due to the 12 page release form which have you have to sign and initial… on every page, in order to release them of all liability. Also the release form does estate, ‘…hang gliding is a dangerous sport and people have died while practicing it.’ you know, to calm your nerves.
Although you have to admire they straightforwardness, it definitely does not ease your desire to pay them for something that might kill you.
Each of us got about 15 minutes in the air depending on both time of day (aka:. thermals due to the sun heating the earth) wind, and honestly, how fat you were. For example a cute, tiny Mexican friend of ours (the one in the capture) managed a solid 20 minutes while one of our more heavier friends, almost twice the Mexican girl, well, at least he got off the ground. That was a good thing, you know, for him.
How did it work? The glider was tethered to the ground my a long metal cable–as seen on the photo, that pulled it, though a large field, essentially serving as an engine and providing it with lift. After you got to the point where the cable could not provide any more lift, the instructor unhinges it and there you go, you are gliding! The view is gorgeous, you can see at least 15-20km in direction and people, as the old saying goes, looked like ants!
At one point, my instructor said, ‘See that hawk?’ there was a dark-feathered spot in the the distance, ‘He is looking for thermals too, let’s see where he goes!’ as we banked to the right in his direction. In the end however the hawk glided further than we would be able to go if we wanted to land in our designated area. So we never caught up the darn hawk and the thermal. The landing is awesome. You lands just like a small plane as there are small wheels at the bottom of the glider. It was an amazing experience!
As I was unhooking myself, I asked, ‘How much for the glider?’ His answer, ‘About 6 grand.’ Ha, who knew you could be gliding through the skies for hours on end for less than what it costs to buy a small bike? Had to admit, I was a bit tempted. You know, as birthday gift.
The photo was taken with a Nikon D700, 50mm as a glider was taking off.