Hang Gliding in Los Angeles
You know those times when you’re better than everyone around you. Not in a cocky way or even by a huge margin, but just enough better that in the event of a sudden need for a hero, you would be instantly, unanimously elected. That was me. 6’1″, wiry, ‘Hugh Grant’ cute, but beneath my epidermis I knew there was the untapped body of a hang gliding legend. Thank god Momondo asked me to explore LA as a part of the Momondo experiences series, otherwise, the world might have never seen my skills. Luckily, I’ve been knocked off my own pedestals before, so the fall didn’t hurt; it felt like suddenly being on my knees because I forgot how to use my feet for a second.
Most stories of hang gliding are like most stories of sky diving- someone you know was strapped to the body of someone you nor they knew and then hurled through the air, which when said like that sounds like the worst blind date ever…but it’s actually way fun. Gliding above the Earth is a chance to see the forest through the trees/gain perspective of the larger whole that makes up life, but in the average story, like a bad blind date, the actual activity is out of the participant’s control. I first got interested in Windsports Hang Gliding because I suspected there was more, a deeper understanding available if I was in control, solo. I didn’t know ‘more’ of what exactly, but if the experience was the same tandem as solo, hang gliding would be a two person sport (and it isn’t).
Wiping the sand off my knees and (to be honest) my chest, was a pretty concrete sign that I wasn’t the Neo of hang gliding. In fact I had zero natural ability for hang gliding, and, after my first two devastating attempts, it was clear that I was the worst of the group. Luckily, I had 5 more flight attempts, and I’d gotten a taste of what hang gliding was actually all about.
As I readied for my third flight, I wasn’t concerned with being the best, what I wanted was more of what I had been getting just the slightest sense of before veering into a dune, the ‘effortless, exhilaration of flight’. As Greg, my instructor, kept repeating ‘just let the hang glider fly’. I had caught glimpses in my flights where the wind simply carried the glider down the dune, a balance of man and nature, it felt like jumping up just before the elevator reaches the top floor and gently landing as it levels out at the stop. That was the feeling I was chasing.
Apparently I have no concept of how tense I am. Greg did. As it turns out, flying a hang glider is just about the most delicate, gentle thing I’ve ever been asked to do. Greg was awesome at pinpointing exactly how I was trying too hard and taught me how to relax into the movements, and I showed improvement.
I don’t want to say I ended up being the best, but, after the distance race at the end of class, I wasn’t in the bottom. More importantly, and somewhat astoundingly to me, I could actually feel myself growing through the lessons. I learned basic maneuvers, and on my last flight was able to use them without being told. That to me is accomplishment.
It’s funny to me, with all that there is in Los Angeles, it’s can be kinda hard to find really unique experiences. Learning to hang glide with Windsports Hang Gliding was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to continuing my lessons.