Almost everyone dreams of flying. Unless you’re afraid of heights, taking to the skies is a liberating experience. The mere act of being airborne outside the confines of a plane is magical, no matter how you achieve that rush. It’s why so many people skydive and go up in hot air balloons and BASE jump, and, of course, it’s why so many hang glide.
We’d bet that at the root of every sky-lover’s fantasy is the desire to live as a bird, to soar without notice and to remain in the clouds for long periods of time, coasting from wind current to wind current with the relaxed precision of a being made to do just that. But, obviously, humans can’t fly. So chasing the feeling of flight requires us to put our bodies in unnatural circumstances and, thus, exposes us to significant danger. Though not as life-threatening as BASE jumping, hang gliding has its own crop of potential disasters, most commonly stemming from crash landings or mid-air collisions.
In the interest of preserving your time on Earth, review these particularly dangerous hang gliding situations and steer clear, especially if you’re a newbie.
Because the hang glider featured above is an indisputable pro, you won’t see anything close to a collision. The ease with which he manipulates his craft proves as much. For all of us less seasoned gliders, cruising what looks to be inches above the tree line is a near guarantee that you’ll experience a painful (maybe even fatal) injury. We know the trees are beautiful, but imagine careening into a forest canopy at 30 mph. Does that seem fun? We didn’t think so. You may feel like a bird, but you’re not one. And that’ll become very evident as soon as you become intimately acquainted with a tree trunk.
This one’s a heartbeat skipper. Short, sweet and totally maddening. If you blink you’ll miss what’s so terrifying about this clip, but our intent in posting it is to remind all gliders (and sky divers for that matter) that, when you’re sailing through the air at 2,500 feet, you’re not only invading birds’ natural habitat, but you’re also swirling about speeding aircrafts that will take you out a whole heck of a lot faster than any falcon or bald eagle. If you’re planning to fly that high up, make sure you’re on special alert.
As is the case in the treetop glider example, the Adrenalist above is clearly a pro who’s done this many times before. You can tell by the way he circles away from the water and toward dry land to stick a perfect landing, all while reportedly going about 100 mph. Any lesser glider, however, could have very easily crashed into the sea and, even at 30 or 40 mph, such a mechanically intensive collision (remember, you’ve got a hang glider on your back) could be disastrously dangerous.
As much as we’d like to think we’re superheroes, we’re not. What we are is susceptible to dangerous collisions with buildings, cars and civilians. There are lots of all those things in cities. It makes sense, then, that it’s probably best to steer clear of metropolitan areas while hang gliding, unless you’re a pro or with a pro guide.
Where don’t you want to be when a lightning storm hits? Flying extra close to the lightning while fastened to a large metal object. This is common sense, yes, but sometimes weather comes on suddenly. So, as with jets, you must constantly be on the lookout and ready to position yourself for an emergency landing (yet another reason why flying around trees, water or buildings isn’t the best bet).