“Are you ready, Peter!?”
After 5 days of cancellations due to dangerous wind conditions, I can’t believe I am finally here; standing over half a kilometer above the ocean-side Barra da Tijuica district of Rio, strapped to what appears to be a giant kite.
Although the car ride up the mountain certainly revved up my sympathetic nervous system, in this moment I am surprisingly calm and focused.
As practiced mere minutes prior to the actual takeoff, I begin to sprint as fast as I possibly can towards the cliff edge.
Running alongside me is Paulo, my hang gliding pilot.
Within about a dozen frenzied steps, there is no more ground beneath my feet. My body goes from an upright running posture to a horizontal one, lying suspended in my harness.
Hundreds of meters below me are trees, a highway, some homes dotting the mountain side, beach-side high rises, and the Atlantic ocean.
Surprisingly, I don’t make a sound as the reality of the situation sinks in.
Instead, I say calmly to Paulo:
“This is phenomenal.”
As we get closer to our beach landing, I look up towards the cliff from which we launched and see Marina flying down after me.
After about 7 minutes of flying it is time to land on the beach, a process that goes more smoothly than I would have ever expected.
Above me Marina and her pilot, Marcus, are circling above the beach, getting close to make their landing.
Just as my own mere minutes before, Marina’s landing goes off flawlessly.
“I want to do that again!!!” yells Marina as she runs over to me.
And if it wasn’t for the cost, I’m sure we both would have.
Next time, we’ll have to up the ante; skydiving is definitely in our near future.
(Enjoy a short video of my take off below)
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