A First Time Hang Gliding (Videos)
Today Athena is back with another guest post and she has a been on an exciting new adventure. If you have ever wanted to go hang gliding, then have a look at all the fun Athena had.
Who knew there was hang gliding in central Texas? I thought you needed cliffs to jump off for that so I had no idea what to expect when my mother told me she got us a Groupon for an introductory lesson in hang gliding. Then I proceeded to not think about it for a month because frankly I was quite scared. The night before I decided to quickly google tandem hang gliding to get a sense of what I was in for… I am not sure it helped or created my unease.
We were told to show up at 9 am wearing layered exercise clothes so I wore a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a light sweater (that I removed for the lesson), and running shoes (but hiking shoes would have been slightly more appropriately…or at least that’s what my cool instructor wore). I had a cup of coffee and attempted to choke down a breakfast taco on a nervous stomach. I am not afraid of heights, however, I loathe that exhilarating feeling people love called free-fall. It is such a terrible not fun, scary feeling to me, so to be clear, I was not scared, just scared that feeling was going to occur. [Also, light breakfast food was key because there was a moment up there when I looked down and saw the ground rushing by and the height and I got a little sick feeling. Looking back up and out at the world (and gripping Pat the instructor fiercely) cured this immediately.]
After we arrived at Carter Memorial Airport in Luling, TX, Joel and Pat of Thermalriders, showed us around a hangar containing some coolers encircled by camping chairs, lots of flying gear/junk, a little dragonfly plane and the glider. We filled out a waiver signing we understood what was going on and we cannot sue them if something goes wrong up there (or something because you know I didn’t read it). Because this was a lesson and not a ride, we were given temporary memberships to the USHPA and told that if we wanted to continue to take lessons an official membership with USHPA was needed.
A very short while and multiple trips to pee later, we were lining up on the runway. My mom volunteered to go first. From getting strapped in all the way to landing, the adventure took roughly half an hour.
Finally, it was my turn. It was relatively easy to wiggle into the apparatus.
I was pretty nervous evident by my stoic composure in this video:
And honestly, before I knew it, we were rolling down the runway and off the ground before the little plane even was.
Take-off was fairly bumpy at first and I was clinging to Pat like a baby monkey. I even calmly told him I didn't think I should attempt to fly the glider because my arms were starting to go numb. He told me to relax and breathe slower. We ascended for about 12 minutes to 2,500 feet above sea level. Once we were high enough, the ride began to smooth out and I could look out at the incredible hill country. Pat told me were about to disengage from the plane and then this feathery light sensation had me burrowing into Pat’s back. This was because we were immediately slowing from 45 mph to 20-25 mph. Pat rolled up the towrope and instructed me on how to pilot the glider. He distracted me from my nerves by telling me about what it is like to hang glide off a cliff and where he has done it around the world. All too soon, he was taking control again for landing.
Here is my mom’s landing
I have to say that by the end of it, I was pretty smitten. It was a neat perspective to see Texas from, exhilarating, and really indescribable. I can’t imagine soaring through a mountainous valley, so I definitely hope to do that someday… someday, when I have $8,000-$12,000 to pay for lessons and a license.
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