By: Matt James
Australia’s East coast. 540 feet above the Coral Sea (Indian Ocean). I’m attached to ‘FlyMaster’, Tony, who steers the hang glider.
While we hover high above the sea, it’s peaceful and I feel small.
In the early morning of a beautiful, sunny day, a gnarly little camper van picked me up at my hostel in Byron Bay. After a quick 20km drive south, we arrived at a windy Lennox Head. Thankfully, because with wind you have glide.
In its entirety, a tandem hang glide is pretty easy. After full instruction from a pro, I slide into a wee harness (like a sleeping bag), as does FlyMaster Tony, to whom I’m securely attached. Once we’re in, it’s time for take off—In my opinion, this is the most awkward part of hang gliding.
Lennox Head is a 65m (213 ft.) landmass formed by a volcano’s lava flow way back when. It is from this cliff that FlyMaster Tony and I scurry down. In mere moments, the wind, gusting over the headland, lifts us into the air. Once airborne, FlyMaster Tony steers while I take it all in.
My life. His hands.
Time in the air can be many things for many people. I feel at ease before we’re even close to reaching 165 meters above sea level. The October breeze in Australia is warm, the view is amazing and the ride is comfortable. Yes, hang gliding is a rush as much as it is calming. And what I wanted was a real adrenaline rush.
FlyMaster Tony was about to give me what I wanted.
Near the end of the flight I asked him if he could do something crazy or fun with the hang glider. Some seconds later the glider dropped; felt like terrible turbulence. I let out a good growl and woot as we spun in circles towards the ground. Shit like that scares me, but I love it.
Landing is much like take off. Coordination can prevent grass stains or a face full of sand depending on your landing location.
As for what company to go with and how much it costs, well, that depends on where in the world you’re hang gliding. Providers are plentiful or meagre depending on the country and city. You’ll need to do your own research and you should. Be sure to nail down an exact price so not to get ripped off.
And yes, there is risk when participating in hang gliding. That’s what waivers and wills are for.