So just before heading to Florida, Geneviève and I went hang gliding. It was my birthday gift to her that I had offered her back in June.
We were supposed to go earlier in the summer, but she had gotten sick and couldn’t go. We had rescheduled a couple of times, but always had weather holds.
We finally made it out on the 7th of September. It was quite the experience, let me tell you…
We went to a place called Distance Vol Libre which is about a 30 minute drive from Nouvel Air located in St-Paul d’Abbotsford, a small town by a 1000 foot hill.
The school has a ground level area on a smaller hill that is similar to a Drop Zone, but doesn’t have flat land as well as a second area on top of the higher hill in between a bunch of trees.
To get into the sky, you either go off the high hill or you are pulled up by a motorized hang glider. We went up with the latter. My tandem master was a gentleman by the name of Martin.
A 6 foot tall man with hands bigger than my head. He was very friendly and extremely talkative. Geneviève went up with another instructor. Everyone went one at a time, so she went first.
The motorized hang glider brought us up to about 4000 feet and then we released. On the way up, Martin gave me a brief explanation of how it would work and since I already knew the scenery (having jumped at Nouvel Air many times) he skipped that part and proceeded to teach me the basics of flight. A hang glider works sort of like a wing, you turn it using body weight which swings left to right like a pendulum. You use the bar under you to control this movement.
To turn, you simply pull the bar closer to you to move your body forward on the glider, which then puts the glider on a downward slope as more weight moves to the front. Then, you move your body to the direction you want to turn and push forward on the bar to move your body to the back of the glider which will flatten the slope of the glide. When you want to stop the turn, you simply do a slight turn in the opposite direction.
Needless to say, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds, but I did get to fly it a bit. It was a lot of fun. The one thing I found extremely impressive and interesting is that hot air pockets will make the glider rise. It isn’t on a slope like a skydiving canopy, so when it hits these spots of hot air, the glider rises. In a matter of 30 seconds, we had risen about 500-600 feet. Martin explained to me that you can actually glide for hours on end without stopping and that he sometimes stays up there until he has to come down to go to the bathroom…
It was a very fun experience and I’ll definitely do it again, but in my mind, it doesn’t compare to the thrill I get from skydiving. It’s a totally different experience. Geneviève loved it, here’s a picture I took before she went up for her ride.
I’ll be posting a lot over the next couple of weeks about my trip to Florida including our tour of the UPT factory!
Blue skies everyone!