GEORGIA

Hang Gliding at Lookout Mountain Flight Park

“Step into my office,” said Steve Bernier while gesturing for me to stand in a small triangular space under the hang glider we’d soon ride together. I’d already been outfitted with safety equipment and watched an orientation video. Once a towrope was hooked to the trailer upon which our hang glider rested, we’d be ready for flight.

“Now this is going to feel awkward,” said Bernier, instructing me to grab the metal bar at my feet and step back while leaning forward until my feet were off the ground. I hung suspended next to Bernier. He told me to grasp handles on each side of his harness.

“Ready?” He waved to signal the airplane pilot. As the small plane sped forward, we bumped along on the earth behind. Within seconds we were airborne and the ride smoothed. As soon as we reached 2,000 feet, Bernier dropped the towline and we floated free, drifting smooth. “When you feel bumps up here it’s nothing to worry about,” he said, explaining it was the air equivalent of riding ocean waves in a boat.

Soaring above Lookout Valley, which is located in north Georgia near the Tennessee border and Chattanooga, we drifted in big loops taking in the gorgeous view. During the flight, Bernier taught me some basic moves: to turn left or right simply press the front bar with that hand, to slow down press the bar away, to speed up pull it in.

Hang gliding can hook you: After experiencing a tandem flight many folks return to learn to fly solo. “Lookout Mountain Flight Park teaches five times more pilots than any other hang gliding school in the world,” said Bernier, who has logged over 12 years experience as a hang gliding instructor.

After about 15 minutes we came in for a smooth landing. Bernier would take up dozens more people that day. I smiled at those waiting in line, knowing what fun awaited them.

A Discovery Tandem Flight costs $149. Onboard pictures are an additional $20. Flights last 12 to 20 minutes and are scheduled from 9 a.m. until dusk. Flights are available to persons age 5 to 92 who weigh less than 250 pounds. The 44-acre Landing Zone offers a full-service campground with tent camping, cabin rentals and an RV park with full hook-ups. For more information, call 800-803-7788.

If You Go...

Lookout Mountain Flight Park
7201 Scenic Highway
706-398-3541
www.hanglide.com

 

Photos by Steve Bernier

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