One of items on my bucket list after Skydiving is Hang Gliding. After went skydiving two weeks ago, I started thinking of what else I could do while I was in U.S. My friend Ramil said there probably won’t be much that could top skydiving. It occurred to me to try Hang Gliding when I got back to San Francisco. My brother’s house is located near a place called Fort Funston which always has number of hang gliders whenever the wind is good.
I when I first called the booking company, they first told me the next availability was in two months! Just was I was about to put down the phone, they told me there was availability during the Labor Day weekend. I quickly opted for the Saturday, Sept 4th. and that my instructor who would be doing the tandem flight with me would be Paris Williams.
I later found out that Paris, a 4-time US National Champion and Word Aerobatics Champion learned to skydive when he was 14 years old. Today he is a certified hang gliding instructor and according to his website, he has done over 5000 tandem flights. Ok, I feel safe… and excited.
The flight was to take place from Fort Funston. Which as I mentioned was just around 5 min away from the house. Paris had 4 scheduled flights that day. After the first two I assisted the flight of Jennifer who was scheduled before me.
However, after Jennifer and Paris had to land on the beach (not the landing zone above), the famous San Francisco fog had rolled in and it was getting too thick to continue (see picture below). Sigh. So Paris scheduled me for the next day. I was quite disappointed.
View Mt. Tamalpais in a larger map
The next day turned out to be a great day! Paris gave me a call and said we would make the flight from Mt. Tamalpais at 2pm that day. I was with my brother, sister, and sister-in-law so after lunch we rushed over to Mt. Tam across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was such a great day… it was bumper-to-bumper traffic all over San Francisco. Anyway, after making our way through traffic, a long and winding road (no song jokes please) we got to the peak of Mt. Tamalpais… and what a view it was!
Below is the flight path. We would be soaring over those trees and land over at Stinson Beach below.
The big kite is all assembled!
Then I get strapped into the harness…
Ok… my heart is pounding!
We run…. and the glider just takes off!
After a while, Paris had me take control of the glider. He taught me how to turn, go up, go down. It was such an experience.
We skimmed over the trees, circled around… it was an absolutely amazing!
One of the first things you notice is that it is so quiet. No engines, no motors, not propellers. I it was just a whoosh of silence and wind. The only thing you could hear was me shouting… WOOHOO!!!
The flight took around 15-20 min before we made it over the ocean and circled for our landing.
We landed on the beach… which of course full of people, we rolled on the sand and stopped right before a family. When we stopped the folks on the beach started clapping.
Above are pics taken from the camera Paris attached in the front of the glider.
To contact Paris, visit his website at http://californiahg.com.
The flight was just awesome. To feeling was definitely different than skydiving! The rush is different. This was just so awesome!!!
I fortunate to have my Kuya Allan and Ate Kathy around to take the pictures above.
I went on my second Hang Gliding Adventure in New Zealand in April 2011 (Link) this time with one of Paris’ former trainees.