Some days you just have to channel your inner Obama and tell yourself: “Yes, you CAN. YES YOU CAN.” So I did just that — and I went hang gliding for the first time.
It was FANTASTIC. It was something I’d always longed to do.
What To Expect: I went with an outfitter called Fly High, based in Locust Hill, Ontario (just east of Toronto). The lift-off is surprisingly smooth and quick. You’re towed, at what seems like break-neck speed, across a grassy farmer’s field (the chords are hooked up to an ATV until you’re airborne and then are detached). Then suddenly you’re airborne, my heart was in my mouth – competing with boyish giggles – as I looked down onto the rooves of houses, farms and four-lane highways. Fly High guarantees you’ll get up to 1,000 feet, but the winds were good that day and we got up to 1,300. It was surprisingly quiet up there and, truth to tell, there’s not much to the glider itself. (I guess the lighter the better.)
Oh, What a Feeling: Looking up is just as exciting as looking down. You’re free. Nothing between you and the sky, the breeze brushing your open limbs. I worked the left-side of the frame which helped turn the glider when instructed. You feel connected to the wind. Just a slight tug with my left hand and suddenly we were soaring eastward over the Highway 401, and then my tandem partner pulled in on the right side and we sailed back over grazing cattle that looked like tiny insects below us. Not even my boyhood Batman dreams prepared me for the reality of flying that high, and so open to the wind.
Soaring High: I’ve never experienced anything more liberating. It was me, my gliding partner (an experienced instructor, of course) and a lightweight frame against the elements. Every few minutes we’d catch a gust of wind and then zoom upward for a few seconds, and then level off. Butterflies did a polka in my stomach.
Coming down was actually exciting, too, swooping gently over the tops of trees and then closer, closer, closer to the ground.
Find a hang gliding (or even para gliding) outfitter near you. Visit The Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada.
Up until that afternoon my most exciting airborne adventure was a helicopter ride over the breath-taking, tree-covered dormant volcanoes near the Napali Coast on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. But this hang gliding experience topped it all. Perhaps there was something to the risk involved. I rather think it was all about living the dream.