The fourth installment of Adventure Week is under way! Today we experience hang gliding!
Its a long ride out to Brentwood to meet up with Zac Majors, my gliding instructor and 2008 US National Hang Gliding Champion. I arrive at the location, a large field with an “airstrip” (i.e. mowed area) and I help Zac set up the tandem glider. Its a very large device, probably 25′ across. Zac’s buddy, John shows up in a “grasshopper”, a small plane designed to tow gliders to height. We attach the glider to the tow cable, place it on the tow trailer and mount up. As the plane takes off, we are right behind. Within a few minutes, we are at 3000′ and we release the tow line.
What an AMAZING experience. We are in controlled flight soaring like the birds. Zac explains how simple it is to control the glider: its all about weight shifting. Within a few minutes, I am flying it myself. Climbs, dives and turns, all happen easily and naturally. Do nothing, and the glider flies itself.
Zac explains how he looks out for circling birds. This indicates some kind of thermal which we may be able to ride up to gain altitude and extend our flight. He spots a hawk circling ahead and takes us into the thermal. We ride it up a bit, although its not strong enough to give us too much more glide time.
It is simply breath taking out here. You can relax and just go wherever you want. You hang suspended from the glider and just shift your body forward, back, left and right to rise, dive or turn. Peaceful. I can see that it would be easy to get addicted to this activity.
Time to land. Zac brings the glider in on the airstrip and as we get close, I start “running” in the air. Eventually my feet touch terra firm and we come to an easy stop. WOW. What an amazing flight!