One of the hobbies Chrissy picked up this past summer was paragliding. Not to be confused with hang-gliding or parasailing — paragliding is where you wear a modified parachute called a glider, throw it up into the wind and take a running leap off a mountain. The wind fills the glider and you soar through the air, catching thermal uplifts and coasting around. The instructor she, and later Jon, went to offers tandem flights and I decided to give it a go — after all, that’s how she got hooked into it. Note also that I have never been sky diving or bungee jumping before.
I went over to Ed Levin State Park on the western edge of Milipitas, just north of San Jose where the mountains rise up to meet the city border. Located at the very end of the Bay’s inlet, this is a favorite spot for paragliders and hang-gliders.
I catch Klaus at the end of the lesson and we pile into his truck, picking up Chrissy and Jon as they folded up their gliders and then making our way slowly up to the top of the 1700 ft. hill that overlooks Ed Levin. It really did look a lot higher up than I was expecting. Jon helped me get my harness on and Klaus arranged the glider behind him. He strapped on to my harness loosely, but it wasn’t a snug fit.
Here’s how it was going to work: we were situated about 30 yards up a gradual incline from the edge of the mountain. Klaus would start standing behind me, facing backwards towards the glider. I would stand at the ready, knees slightly bent. Klaus would then pull the glider into the air, wait until it moved directly above us, then turn around and yell “run, run, RUN!” I would take off running, pulling both of us and if all went well, he would be airborne and pull me up to him by the time we got to the edge of the cliff. I didn’t think much about that failing to happen.
And you know, it worked! What an incredible feeling it was to just soar, soar, soar above the hills. Klaus twisted and turned us around, seeking and catching thermals. We’d look for the birds, because they were naturals at doing this. We must have been up in the air for 10 or 12 minutes, until we coasted down for an easy running landing near the parking lot, where Chrissy and Jon were waiting. It really made me think to start taking classes! HIghly recommended to everyone if they get the chance.