This morning, our taxi arrived at 10am to pick us up at our apartment. We headed off to Tajuca forest as our jump off point. Driving down the beach-side drive past Ipanema, we headed around the curves to start up the hill around to the other side. Once past several colorful favelas (ghettos), we arrived at the landing spot of hang gliders. It was a part of the beach with lines drawn in the sand of landing signs. It was absolute beautiful.
We then met Fernando, our pilot, who shook our hands and showed us to our car for the drive up to the jumping point. Going up the hills was really full of trees and greenery, and then there was a sharp turn to go up the rest of the way. This tiny little path way at a grade much similar to those of San Francisco, showed us our hilltop for our jump.
We decided that Joe would go first, and I would watch, take pictures, and then await their arrival back up to the jumping point to then do the same for me. I got great shots of Rio and hanggliders alike, and then waited for Joe’s jump to start. Before I knew it, they were running down the little runway, and off they went! With a small dip and an upturn to the right, they were off on their journey as a bird looking down at the sights.
During my watch of others, I saw many other jumpers using parasails as well. One guy started his run down the hill, and what’s supposed to happen is that the parasail fills up with air and he can be lifted up. Something went ary and before I knew it, his sail deflated, and he dropped down before he even went off. Everyone ran towards him, and, everyone seemed like everything was fine, but I watched and watched, and I never once saw him come back up..
Finally, it was my turn, and before I knew it, I was being strapped into my harness and running with the instructor for practice. The key is to sync your run and run hard down the runway and keep running even into the air. So, we queued up and got strapped in, and he yelled something in Portugese, to alert everyone here we come! 1, 2, 3 and we ran perfectly in sync and whoosh—silence and floating. It was amazing. For so long I have always been able to dream of flying, and this is as close as I’ve ever been. You’re hanging above the land looking down and hear only the wind passing by as you float through the winds. It was absolutely beautiful. We could see the Sugar Loafs and Corcavado (The Christ Statue) looking down on Rio and the endless bluish green sea. Words can’t describe the feeling.
Once we floated down closer to the beach, we started to take a quick turn which dropped my stomach and gave such a rush! He then unstrapped my leg and I was dangling in the wind as we came rushing towards the ground. I started to get a little freaked out because he didn’t say anything about a fast landing or how to land… He said, don’t move! and stand up when I say STAND! As we started careening through the beach I thought it was going to be such a rough landing so I started to prepare for such a hard jolt. But, when he said STAND! I stood, and we lighted just like a feather to a 10.0 landing. AWESOME!
Mom and DadJune 6, 2005
Ben, we are reading your journal from LongBoat Key Florida and what an adventure you are having!! Dad is just delighted about the hanggliding adventure—Mom is not so sure!! But anyway, we are so excited that you are having such an awesome trip. Be safe!!