Paragliding feels like being a bird

A hawk patrolling an ocean bluff is a beautiful scene to watch. You can see from the movement of his body through the air, and the movement of his feathers and wingtips, and the fact that he almost never flaps his wings, that the air moving invisibly in from the ocean and up the cliff must be, to the bird, a lush pillow on which to rest. The bird is feeling and sensing the air in just the same way that a human running on a dirt path feels the earth beneath her feet.

My paragliding instructor used to fly Cessna 182s. Then he switched to ultralights. Then he realized that the lighter the plane, the closer he comes to the feeling he’s sought since he was a child: the feeling of being one of the birds, sensing and moving the though the air as if it was home.

Paragliding is the closest I’ve come to the feeling of being a bird. The invisible movements of the air are the paraglider’s world. His job is to sense, predict, and leverage that flowing ether to, as if by magic, lift himself to soar along the cliffs and float among the clouds.

I just may be hooked.


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