To Air Is Human: Hang Gliding At Groveland's Quest Air

By: Gary McKechnie


Last weekend I did something I’d done only once before in my lifetime – and I don’t mean taking a bath. I went hang gliding at Quest Air in Groveland, which is about 30 minutes west of Orlando. The operation is managed by Paul Tjaden and his wife Lauren, VISIT FLORIDA’s Insider for Beaches and Adventure.

Adventure is right. But a safe adventure, to be sure.

If you haven’t done this before, here’s just a quick snapshot of how my morning unfolded. After signing waivers (of course) we headed to a far end of the field where Mark, the pilot, and I slipped into harnesses stacked atop one another. Hooked to an ultralight, we sped along the ground, took off in an instant, and sailed up to 2,500 feet in a cool, crisp sky where Mark released us from the ultralight. My heart was already pounding up to that point, but when the towline was sprung and Mark swooped down after the ultralight and chased it across the sky like a falcon, I was screaming like a 12-year-old at a Justin Bieber show.

The coolest part about the experience is that the FAA categorize hang gliders differently than other aircraft so when you go soaring, the pilot offers YOU the option to fly as much as you’d like. Pull the bar toward you and you dive, push it out and it’s like an air brake. Shift your body to the right and the wing drops to take you right; to the left, the same result.

Pure and easy and peaceful and natural.

And thrilling.

I’ll be adding video of me in flight (this video shows my brother taking off) and more content and comments soon, but if you’re inclined to experience a sensation that I compare to flying a motorcycle in the sky, Quest Air is certainly far enough “off the beaten path” to take you not just away from crowds – but way above them.

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