Learning to fly

My sole intension that's learning to fly.
Condition grounded but determined to try.
Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies;
tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I. --Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly

I flew like an eagle, but only for a few seconds and only a few feet above the ground. But what a rush!

As if I didn't have enough to do, I, along with my friend Jason (who took the pictures above), decided to take up hang gliding and so signed up for instruction in the Tres Pinos area around Hollister airfield south of San Jose, California. I was supposed to do both the tandem (which is more than a thousand feet) and the solo instruction, but the former was cancelled because of weather conditions. The latter however proved to be an incredible amount of fun.

Before you start, you just have to carry the glider and run. The glider (which weighs about 40-50 pounds) is a pain to carry unless there's a wind or if you're moving. Once you walk/run, then it's very easy since the glider essentially lifts itself.

Then we just went up a hill and ran down it and suddenly my feet were off the ground and I was running on air. It's an awesome feeling. I did about 5-6 runs like this, working my way higher on the hill (to about 100+ feet or so). I never did manage to land properly on my feet but did glide for quite a distance.

People have a misconception about hang-gliding. You never really "hold" the glider--the handlebars are there just to steer and are extremely sensitive (if you grip them, you will crash). You glide by being suspended by the glider, which works like a kite.

This is definitely something I recommend that everyone (even someone who's not an adrenalin junkie) try. It's not at all scary or rush-inducing (say, like skydiving is), or even difficult. It's actually very serene and peaceful (more like flying on a sailplane) and that's a thrill in and of itself.

Pseudointellectual ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org