This is a description of Steve Wilhite's first tandem hang gliding flight, which he took during a group outing to Highland Aerosports that M. Cavanaugh arranged for the weekends of Nov. 15/22, 2003. He gained a new perspective on clouds, from a mile up :-)

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Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2003 12:19:37 -0500 (EST)
From: Steve Wilhite
Subject: Re: Soaring Trip : We Flew!!!

Fellow adventurers,

My impressions following my 'mile-high' flight on Sunday...

    Well, I have to say that the flight was worth every penny, that's for sure! When I arrived and was informed by Mark that Andrei had just returned from a mile high, I had no choice but to do the same! Take-off was quick and smooth, but I must have gone into denial soon after because the separation that was being established between myself and the ground didn't seem to bother me *much* at all (after we were up a pretty good distance I asked Adam how high we were "oh, about 800 feet or so." "GULP!" only about 4500 more feet to go! :-)

    As we were headed up I took Mark's advice and made sure that I did plenty of looking around. It was a little hazy, but I could still see the Bay off in the distance and plenty of detail below. I was happy about the clouds though because it was totally awesome to pass them by on the way up!! When we reached altitude the plane gave a little signal, Adam released, and at that exact moment it hit me right smack between the eyes!

    No, not a bird, just the realization of where I was and what I was doing!! :) There was just a sudden calmness after the plane dove away into the distance. Up until that point it was sort of like being in a plane and then, suddenly, I found myself hanging 1 mile up in the sky- totally cool!

    The descent down is where the real fun began. Just lots of fun to be at the controls and see first-hand how easy it is to fly. I was just amazed by how much the glider flies itself -- one could do almost nothing and have a wonderful flight. (certain fun details removed here ;-) I also did some stalls -- I didn't really trust myself at first, but soon learned that they're easy to do and to recover from. In fact, I found out later just how pansy they really are (compared to the wingovers that Adam took me through!). These were a fantastic way of finding out just what these gliders are capable of doing.

    After the wingovers it was time to land, alas! The landing was perfect- quick and smooth. This was a great adventure and I'll definitely be back for more. The only problem is that I now want to fly solo!

    Don't hold back. If you have the opportunity to go- I say "GO!", and don't stop at less than a mile if you have that option. This felt way safer than I had ever imagined it could...