This adventure is perhaps the closest I will get to soaring like an eagle. With hang gliding there is no motor or complex machinery involved – just me, my guide and the specially designed wing which looks similar to an over-sized kite.
I stood on an open field that would become our landing field. And as I looked up, I saw Mount Bruce, our launching pad on the edge of the cliff. Steve, my hang gliding instructor, drove up a steep logging road and we reached our destination within 20 minutes. After our simple set up of the hang glider, we ran up a steep 10-foot ramp to launch off the cliff. Stepping off the ramp initially catapulted us downward into the open space but we were quickly lifted back up towards the sky.
Wow! We were soaring high like a bird. I clung on tightly to Steve as he hung on to the glider bar. The feeling was exhilarating as I saw the horizon and felt the gushing wind. It’s a peculiar feeling as we were suspended horizontally by a large over-sized kite. The hang glider was very sensitive to body movements. When Steve nose dived with the hang glider, I felt my stomach doing somersaults. After a while, he handed the reins over to me. He taught me how to maneuver it; as I pushed the bar out it slowed us down but when I pulled the bar towards me, it sped us up. My hang gliding experience lasted for 7-8 minutes. The aerial view was breathtaking.
Usually I have a pretty strong stomach for adventures so I wondered why I felt woozy up in the air. Steve explained that my body was not used to being in the horizontal position, swinging back and forth and floating up and down. Looking down from such a high elevation is also a reason. It was one of the most thrilling and exhilarating sky adventures that I’ve ever had.
Steve was a barrel of laughs (and screams) but still very much in control. We came in very fast over the grassy field and landed on our wheels with our legs lifted high. I was so impressed how smooth the landing was. I felt safe knowing that Steve has been a certified Hang Gliding Instructor since 1999 and has over 2000 tandem hang gliding flights under his wings. Steve is one of the only 2 certified tandem hang gliding instructors in British Columbia.
I definitely recommend wearing long pants, closed shoes for this adventure (you’ll thank me as you’re landing). Dress in layers as it does get breezy up in the sky. I wanted to take aerial pictures but I was screaming half the time therefore it was low on my priority list.
Hang gliding, as with many adventures, allowed me to live in the moment. I was in the moment of living, breathing, enjoying my surroundings and feeling the adrenaline pump through my whole body. It was a great feeling! It liberated my body, mind and spirit. It released all my tension.
I believe this is one of the reasons why people love adventures such as this. It forces you to be in the present and not in past regrets or future uncertainties. Let us live, love and embrace each moment. It is fitting to close with Eleanor Roosevelt’s, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present."
To sum up my adventure in one word: EXHILARATING!
Steve Parson (Certified Instructor)
9910 Willow Street
Chemainus, BC V0R 1K1
Phone: 1 (250) 416-1567