This is a description of Joana Silva's first tandem hang gliding flight, which she took during a group outing to Highland Aerosports that M. Cavanaugh arranged for the weekends of Nov. 15/22, 2003. She clearly had a blast getting a mile-high!
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Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2003 10:42:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Soaring Trip
From: Joana Silva
To: Mark Cavanaugh
Hang-gliding was simply glorious! I had a somewhat different feeling than what Monica and Stuart described. They said that they felt like a pair of eyes, observing the whole spectacle, sort of like an out of body experience. It may be the ornithologist in them... Maybe because I am such a chicken with heights, I was very aware of my whole body during the flight, which made me feel very much a part of the whole scene.
We got up really high, and could see the bay really well, and the pastures and fields gleaming under the mid-day sun. There was a humidity layer and so, looking downwards in the direction of the sun, the sunlight was reflected, as if the earth was holding a mirror, not allowing us to look in.
When we were closer to the ground, and most of the amazing view was gone, Adam tried a slow stall, followed by a fall and some turns. He asked if I wanted to try something more drastic, as apparently more sudden stalls make it for a faster fall and the looping spirals in the end are really fast. I said "hum, I don't think so..." and then "OK!".
I am really scared of that free-fall feeling (I can't go on roller-coasters) and that fear prevailed at first... then I realized that the fall in that glider was really much more controlled, and maybe because of that I did not experience that awful fear of the roller-coaster, with the adrenaline rush that makes my heart want to jump out through my mouth. Anyway, we ended up doing a few more acrobatics that felt really amazing. I still felt a rush, but much more of joy and amazement, than of fear. If it looked from the ground half as exhilarating as it felt in the air, it must have been pretty to watch.
I think we got a thermal at some point (Ed note: yup, she sure did!), as it felt a little rocky, and it seemed that we were climbing again. And I think it took us quite a long time to get down, or it sure felt that way. I must have been up there for 30 or 40 min. Adam is a really great pilot, and I am sure he contributed to make the whole experience more enjoyable.