Monday, January 10, 2011

Up, Up, and Away

The last time I was strapped to a parachute I remember my friend commenting, “We’re just hanging out, having a conversation in the air.” Other than the initial part where the boat propelled us into the air, parasailing was smooth sailing. Paragliding yesterday (#7? on the list of adventures that haven’t yet killed me) was a much more exciting experience. I was still hanging out in the air, but this time I was hovering hundreds of feet above mountains and buildings, not just 50 feet above the ocean.

The idea of jumping off a cliff had my stomach in a knot. Luckily, as soon as my pilot strapped our harnesses together, a strong wind lifted us into the air. We floated out over the mountains carried by the powerful afternoon currents. We flew several miles away to a nearby town. I thought we were going to land in the town, but the pilot looped the parachute back around towards the mountains. Using the warm air currents coming off the rocks, we slowly rose higher and higher into the air. Finally, after about thirty minutes, we landed on the mountain from which we had taken off.

The ride was surprisingly calm and I had no fear of falling. I only experienced one brief moment of doubt and that occurred early in the flight when my pilot answered his cell phone midair: “Hello? I’m flying right now.”

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