Wilbur Wright quoted about flying that More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace mingled with an excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination.
I understand perfectly.
People who know me know that I spend much time with my head in the clouds – or, well, close to them, anyhow -- in all kinds of aircraft, but particularly hang gliders.
To say I’m addicted – to the perfume of orange-grove thermals spiraling upwards, to the sight of falcons and vultures that treat me like a sister in the air, to the whistling, clean, music that my glider makes when I fly her very fast – is not an overstatement but an understatement. To me, flying is like breathing: when I go without it for any length of time, I feel as if I’m suffocating.
Here are five of my favorite flighty Florida adventures, for those of you who are afflicted with the same disease as I am:
· Hang gliding: Nope, there aren’t any mountains in Florida – so you get airborne by hooking the glider to a light-sport airplane with a long line and towing to the desired altitude. Even if you’ve never flown you can go tandem with an instructor. And you can relax! The take-off and landing are on wheels, so there’s no running involved. Here’s a blog I wrote about, with links to places you can enjoy this in Florida (and a video of how it all works, too).
· Skydiving: This sport is the heaviest on adrenaline of those on this list. There’s something about leaping out of a perfectly good plane a couple of miles high that tends to get your heart thudding… and if that doesn’t do it for you, free-falling at 120 mph should wake you up.
You can also do this with a tandem instructor. Here’s a link to a blog with a slide-show of skydiving and here'a a link to skydiving places. And get this! I’ve only been skydiving once before, but I get to go again in a little over a week for a VISIT FLORIDA video.
· Parasailing: This peaceful way to get airborne often provides spectacular views, since you launch off of a boat. I’m not providing links here, since almost any seashore you visit in the Sunshine State offers this.
· Flying a sailplane (also known as a glider): This sport is much like flying a hang glider in that you get towed up to altitude by a motorized plane and then stay up by circling in thermals, except that you’re in a plane. It’s a spectacular sport; check out this blog I wrote about it that includes a video and you’ll see what I mean.
· Ballooning: This sport promises a feast of beauty – from the balloons gathering heat and taking shape in the early-morning field to the views the low, slow flight provides. I find it odd when ballooning there is no sense of flying whatsoever – it’s like standing in your living room, since you are moving at exactly the same speed as the wind. Here’s a link to an article I wrote about it with info on where you can enjoy this.