A couple years ago, we bought my dad a trip to go hang gliding up in Fernandina Beach and he loved it so much he wanted to go again. Without hesitation, I promised him I would go with him…..that was a year ago!
First off, let me explain this whole hang glide thing – it’s not like what you expect, it’s not like I was flying in the sky with just the wind, my body and a large wing. I had a pilot, the aircraft had a propeller and we were being monitored by air traffic control. Some people have referred to the machine as an ultralight hang glider.
I knew I needed to do this as soon as possible before I wussed out, especially after talking to people and hearing “nope, no way” or “you’re insane”. Even my brother who has gone skydiving said he wouldn’t do it!!! But I truly didn’t understand the fear these people had, especially after further research showing a 100% safety record and the pilot who has over 20 years experience!
So I booked our flights (my uncle even joined us) and I have to say, it DID NOT disappoint. The first (and only) mistake I made was watching my dad go up – that looked to be the most terrifying part, but in reality it was amazing! It was such a smooth ride up (I was actually shocked at how smooth it was) and it feels much different than it looks. The ride itself was extremely exhilarating and I’m not going to lie – I was TERRIFIED THE ENTIRE TIME, but loved every second of the 30-minute flight!
The views of the Fernandina Beach shoreline were amazing – and I heard it’s pretty common to see a dolphin, whale or shark in the water, but I wasn’t that fortunate! I waved to the people below as we were flying above the water at only 100′ and a gut-wrenching thrill came over me as the pilot said we are going to ascend back up. As I was SQUEEZING the chair in front of me with all my strength, I said to the pilot “don’t tell me now, but when we land, I want to know how high we are flying at this moment.” Thankfully he respected my wishes and told me when we landed that we were 2,000′ in the sky, flying approximately 70MPH!!! Yes, I was the fool flying 2,000′ high in the sky with flip flops on and have received so much grief about it, but again, I had no doubt this was going to be a completely safe experience, plus we were doing lunch/shopping afterward, so why would I wear anything other than flip flops 😉
If anyone is looking to get out of their comfort zone, or try something new, I would highly recommend Hang Glide USA. The staff was absolutely amazing and extremely accommodating, the pilot was hilarious and it was an overall FANTASTIC experience/thrill.
TIP: If you’re interested in going, they recommend going first thing in the morning as it’s less turbulent. We went from 10:00-11:30 and the last flight started to get a bit turbulent. If I did it again, I’d go at sunrise!