I know, I tend to have a flair for the dramatic. But seriously, the title of this post is basically what hangliding is. Here’s the back story. When I was planning this trip with my girlfriends, I really wanted to do a ton of things I a) had not done before or b) would not be able to do in New York City. As you can imagine, the margin was fairly slim as it relates to what I can do in NYC because apparently I’ve done NOTHING, but lots can be done on this tiny island.
One of my favorite things to do when I am planning a trip is to sign up for Living Social deals in the destination where I will be visiting. I do this for a few reasons. The first is, through the daily emails, I’m usually exposed to an activity or experience I never considered trying before (this is where hangliding comes in). The second is that I can find sweet deals on activities I do all the time like dining, massages, mani/pedis and even football or baseball games. About two months before the trip I signed up for Living Social deals in Salt Lake City and the surrounding area. In addition to finding a deal for hangliding (that I had to do on my own, more on that later) my friends and I also bought 90 minute massages for 45 bucks. Talk about a deal basically unheard of in New York!
Now, on to hangliding. When I first received a deal for hangliding in my inbox 6 weeks before the trip I was all HELL YES and my friends were all HELL NO. To be more specific I think their responses were “how do you land?”, “wait, so you just jump off a cliff?” and “you’re insane. I’m not doing it.” Not one to force all my friends to risk their lives, I decided that I would simply have to try hangliding or paragliding another time so I let the deal expire. Jump forward to a week before the trip. I was still craving adventure and I was now aware of the fact that I would be in Utah for two full days alone before my friends got there. How was I to occupy myself? Oh wait…what’s that? ANOTHER deal for hangliding in my inbox 5 days before I’d be on a flight to Utah? I called them, made my appointment and tried not to let the anxiety creep in.
Prior to my trip I told no one I was going hangliding. I kept that between me and Jesus (lol). Basically I’m lucky to have family and friends who care about me but they also tend to worry alllllll the time so I knew better. After a few reassuring phone calls with my hangliding coach and multiple replays of a hangliding video, I felt ready. I drove the 45 minute drive to Draper, UT where I’d be meeting my coach Kevin for a hangliding tandem at the Salt Lake County Flight park. FYI a tandem ride means that I would be riding along with Kevin holding on to him while also being harnessed into the hang glider. As with skydiving along with a teacher, Kevin and I were strapped to each other and I was not responsible for anything but holding onto him. The purpose for my death grip was to prevent me from freaking out and grabbing onto the hang glider and shifting our weight. That would be bad. As long as I stayed gripping his straps we’d be good.
When I arrived at the park I was slightly shocked at how small the gliders were. I politely asked how (the hell) the glider was to support two people and he politely explained the entire process as I stared out over Salt Lake City and hardly listening. All I heard was “don’t let go of my straps” and I figured that was the most important part. I stepped into my harness and had Kevin check everything about three times only to find out that the wind wasn’t quite right so we’d be waiting for a bit. Obviously I was all about delaying the flight until the wind was appropriate, but at the same time, the longer we waited the more my anxiety grew. Not to mention I was bummed over learning that I would not be able to go up with my phone to take pictures because my hands were to stay. on. the. straps. I watched as single paragliders floated in the air and became increasingly impatient and hungry. Finally it was our turn, yay!
Kevin let me know that in order to take off we’d just start running and I was not to stop until he told me to stop. Sounded easy enough. Mind you I was thinking, like with an airplane, we would run a significant distance before actually taking off. When we walked up to the landing strip, and I use that term gently, I audibly said “oh sh*t” because I realized that we’d literally be running off a cliff that was at least 500+ feet high (I actually have no idea of the height but it was damn high). “Ummm…shouldn’t we cover a bit more ground before we jump?” I asked. Kevin cheerfully replied “just keep running!” I said a quick prayer for safety and preemptively requested my parents forgiveness and ran until my feet were still moving in the air. When I finally opened my eyes we were floating over a reservoir and Kevin was drifting us from left to right. I could not believe how freeing the feeling was and immediately I made fun of myself for being so scared. Although I didn’t want to distract him, I tend to chat when I’m nervous so Kevin told me all about what made him want to fly, how long he lived in Utah, and reassured me that I had nothing to be scared of. Due to the lack of wind we unfortunately had only about a three-minute flight capped off by a light landing right on our feet. I immediately wanted to ride again but at the same time knew that what we had just done was more than enough. I felt invigorated and SO ready to tell my girls what they missed out on 🙂
Enjoy some pictures from the day below. If you are ever in the market for paragliding or hangliding in Utah, make sure to check out Birdman Academy and ask for Kevin. He’ll take great care of you!
Have you ever been hangliding, paragliding or even skydiving? What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done? I need some new ideas!