FLYING FREELY AT LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN

As the digital altimeter indicated twenty-five hundred feet, Gucci pulled the tiny handle that released the tandem hang glider from the ultra-light tow plane, and within seconds, nothing could be heard except the wind passing over the wing. What a rush…!!!

My French instructor pilot, nicknamed Gucci by the hang gliding crowd, began teaching me the intricate differences between flying a hang glider and an airplane. Since the movement of one’s weight controls the attitude of flight in a hang glider, it is exactly opposite from the controls of an airplane. Nevertheless, most folks with good hand/eye coordination can master flying a glider quickly, and before we had descended five hundred feet, Gucci had removed his hands from the control bar and allowed me to fly.

The next one thousand feet of descent included sharp turns and stalls of my own making, but when we reached about a thousand feet from the landing zone, Gucci took control again, and really put the glider into some interesting positions. He performed radical stalls, almost spin-like turns, and a fast landing that had everyone on the ground watching. It was a perfect ending to one of the most exhilarating rides I had ever experienced!

The fantastic part is that anyone can soar like an eagle with a professional, certified instructor pilot for a bird’s eye view of beautiful Lookout Mountain and the surrounding tri-state area. Depending on air currents, these flights normally begin at two thousand feet, after a tow, and last twelve to twenty minutes.

Lookout Mountain Flight Park began in 1978, and is the largest and most successful full-time hang gliding school and resort in the United States. They teach and certify more hang glider pilots than any other school in the country, and also offer the most comprehensive training facility on a 44-acre mountain retreat with camping and lodging conveniently located in the landing zone. Other amenities include: swimming pool, volleyball court, clubhouse, bath house, bunkhouse, cabins, and shaded pavilions. They can be contacted by calling 706.398.3541 or e-mailing fly@hanglide.com.

If you’ve ever seen a modern hang glider soaring high in the air and thought, “That’s fantastic, but I could never do that,” you’re in good company…most hang glider pilots felt the same way before they learned to fly. However, with proper training and good equipment at Lookout Mountain, the exciting sport of hang gliding is possible for almost anyone, and if one only wants a one-time experience, flying tandem with an experienced instructor is the perfect answer!

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