Who wants to fly?
‘Para’gliding… seems like a misnomer after last weeks adventure.
Could be called tetragliding now…
“It’s not so much the flying part that I’m worried about. It’s more the taking off and landing,” I questioned one of the paragliding instructors at Jackson Hole Paragliding.
“Well, once we take off we will land” Matt assured me with a chuckle. “You’ll be fine.”
Works for me, I thought and continued with my ‘sign your life away’ check in papers.
The fact of the matter is, I had never really thought about paragliding prior to seeing The Intouchables at the movie theater the night before. There is a very memorable scene in the film when a C4 quadriplegic paraglide’s off a mountainside somewhere in Europe. I was obviously not in Europe but AM a quadriplegic and had a mountainside with paraglide’s at my disposal so…. Why the hell not?
The whole process was quite effortless on my part. I took the tram to the summit and transferred to the ground where I strapped up in the harness. I had a couple of guys carry me for the initial lift off but with a little help from a gust of wind, I watched as the ground fell out from beneath me and gravity became more of a myth than reality.
“Saaaawwwwweeeeeeetttttt!!” Is all I could get out of my mouth, “This is fuckin awesome!”
We flew all over the mountain whizzing over treetops and soaring to another paraglider, my dad, who I also convinced to join in.
“Do you like roller coasters?” Matt said yanking his right arm down by his side causing the right side of the shoot to dive and undoubtedly us too.
My stomach lurched as the feeling of free fall followed by intense G forces impacted my body. He let go of his right arm and pulled down with the left causing us to swing swiftly to the other side! Whoa!!!
After voluntarily making my stomach feel deathly ill and finally leveling off, Matt offered for me to take the controls. I reminded him that I don’t have hand function so hanging on to the controls could be problematic but he assured me I’d be fine. Looping the straps around my wrist, I began to steer.
“I could get used to this” I exclaimed!
“We could teach you to do so!”
Coming into the landing zone Matt offered to take the controls to which I happily obliged.
“See if you can lift your knees up,” he instructed. “I should be able to take care of the rest.”
He was right. He set me so softly on the ground that I questioned whether someone had snuck a foam pad beneath of us.
“Piece of cake,” were the only words I could squeak out.
I was hurriedly carried out of the landing zone before the other came ripping in. Looking up in awe, I watched as a solo pilot practiced some form of front flip maneuver over and over above us.
“Maybe one day,” I said then forcefully looked away before I threw up just thinking about how tricks like that would make my stomach react.
As much as I enjoyed the paragliding scene in the movie, it doesn’t scratch the surface of how it feels in real life!
A day for the books
-Keep on Keepin’ on