I sat on the bed and called the number I had brought from LA to Rio. Actually, we flew from LA to Fort Lauderdale, to Sal Palo, to Rio. “Hello, Hilton?” I asked, “Yes, I’m Hilton” he replied. “It’s Susan, we made it here, when is a good time to go hang gliding this week?” “Now” he replied. “Now?” We had just flow over 14 hours and 5 time zones to get here and we were tired. However, wind is fickle and this might be our best chance. “Let me ask my husband”, Rob was in the shower so I yelled “Honey, how about if we go hang gliding now?” He peaked out of the shower, “well, um, okay”.
“How do we get there? I asked. “I’ll pick you up in 30 minutes” True to his word he was there. Our trip to the site reminded me of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland but we arrived safely.
The launch is only 1,500 feet high and the platform is 15 feet wide. It was a green sloping platform that ended over the cliff. We both rode tandem I was with Hilton and Rob was with Jason. The flights lasted about 45 to 50 minutes each.
We ran and jumped off the edge, the glider sank a bit when it got our whole weight then we glided up and over the trees on the hillside. We flew over an elite neighborhood- all the homes had pools. I had a beautiful sweeping vista of the coast, there was Copacabana Beach and Sugarloaf (so named because it looks like a loaf of bread).
After we took off we caught the coastal winds that would flow over the beach and up the mountain creating a strong ridge lift. We rode these winds back and forth along the ridge. At times we rose above the launch ramp and while looking down at ramp, we got to take pictures of where we started our flight. There were 9 other hang gliders and 5 para gliders flying near us on the ridge. (Para gliders are the ones that look more like a parachute and require less wind than a hang glider). Every now and then we waved at another passing pilot and said “hello” with a simple smile. Between the both of us, we used up 3 entire rolls of flim. Rob even got a great picture of me, Hilton, and our hang glider at around 2000 feet with Sugarloaf and Copacabana Beach in the background.
Whoosh, we were over the ocean, looking back at the hillside and beach. “We’ll land there” Hilton said as he pointed at the beach. It looked like we were too high to land there but a turn or two later and we gently landed on the beach, perfect.
It was a beautiful day and the wind felt great. We told everyone on our trip about it and several intrepid fellow travelers called Hilton and gave it a try. Sometimes you have to seize the day so you can inspire others to do so too. Also, there’s one thing that neither of us will ever say when we’re older “I wish I would have done something like that when I was your age”.