If you’ve ever dreamed of flying high in the sky then here’s your chance! Exhilarating yet calm and relaxing, Hang Glide Miami provides an experience like no other.
Located less than 15 minutes away, at 3400 Pan American Drive in Coconut Grove, Hang Glide Miami allows you to soar over the bay while giving you a landscape view one can only experience through flight.
Hang Glide Miami was created about a year ago by Eric Williams, 38, whose been hang gliding for 17 years. His passion and dedication for teaching customers makes Hang Glide Miami one of the best places to visit in South Florida.
Here you’ll be greeted by the most personable staff. The staff are passionate, charismatic and affable. They treat you as if they’ve known you for years.
First, you can expect to be taken on a joyous boat ride to the middle of the bay. Williams cranked up the music, started the boat and off we went. Once out in the bay, get ready to suit up, lay down and experience the thrill of soaring up several thousand feet.
My flight took place on March 11, at 3:30 p.m. I was accompanied by Williams and two other instructors— Andy Thompson, 27, and Mike Pattishall, 27. Thompson and Pattishall are both certified instructors with five years experience.
The hang glider is much easier to get into than it looks. You’ll be strapped into a harness, similar to rock climbing, which lays you flat on your stomach. Once an instructor has secured you safely into the glider, he then straps himself in and joins you. You’re positioned just below the instructor, which can be somewhat awkward at first, but because of the staff’s exuberant personalities, you hardly take notice. Once you’re strapped in and ready to go, they teach you how to steer the craft.
Steering the craft is all about weight-shift. If you want to turn left then you push the bar out with your right hand and pull in with your left in order to shift your weight to the left side. The opposite applies for steering right. Push the bar in towards your chest if you want to go fast and push the bar out away from you in order to slow down. Don’t’ worry though, your instructor will go over all of this with you and ensure that you know what you’re doing before taking off.
Surprisingly, the risks involved are slim to none. Like a roller coaster, you’re strapped in and unlike one, an instructor stays with you the entire time. The worst thing you can do involves ignoring directions and/or yanking on the strings they tell you not to.
When ready for take-off, the boat speeds up to about 30 mph. As the boat gains speed you start lifting up, up and away, gaining altitude.
The take off is very similar to parasailing in that as the boat picks up speed, you begin drifting high up in the air and before you know it, everything below you starts looking like a bunch of ants. The main difference between parasailing and hang gliding is that while hang gliding, you go a hell of a lot higher and the experience lasts much longer.
As you reach the desired altitude level, the rope connecting the glider to the boat is released and you simply soar over the ocean allowing you to experience Miami like never before. Soaring through the air at 1,700 feet, you can see everything Miami has to offer including a breathtaking view of the Miami horizon, the downtown area, Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, South Beach, the Gables and more! On a clear day, you can even see all the way out to Ft. Lauderdale!
Hang gliding can be as peaceful and relaxing or as exhilarating and adventurous as you’re willing to make it. The possibilities are endless depending on your preferences. It’s like taking a ride on Aladdin’s magic carpet, with twists and turns, gliding up, soaring down, floating left, drifting right. It really is a “whole new world” soaring through the air! The only thing that you can’t do (and probably wouldn’t want to), is flip upside down.
The flight itself is exhilarating yet peaceful all at the same time. It’s an indescribable feeling that gives you the adrenaline rush you want without being a total overload.
For my flight, I was accompanied by Thompson who was able to keep me calm and relaxed while maintaining simple conversation which distracted me from any nerves I may have had. Up in the air, he told me to extend my arms out like a bird, open my eyes, and fly!
The flight lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on how adventurous you make it. Obviously, the faster you go the shorter the ride. As you glide through the sky, not once do you worry that the wind will die and you’ll come crashing down. Even as the wind softens, the glider continues to soar safely all the way down.
The landing is thrilling yet salty. As you near closer and closer to the water, the instructor directs you on what to do when you land. Basically, you take your feet out of the straps they’re in, position yourself as straight as possible and land just like a seaplane would. Get ready for impact as you grace the water, keep your mouth closed and expect a big splash in the face once you land in it.
After you’ve landed, the instructors on the boat reel in the hang glider and reattach it. Once the hang glider is safely reattached, you’ll be assisted out of your harness and sadly, your flight is over.
I also had the pleasure of watching instructor Pattishall, take flight of his own. In contrast to my flight with Andy, his flight had vast amounts of twists and turns that looked absolutely thrilling. I thought it best to leave the majority of those twists out of my flight since it was my first time and I had no idea what to expect.
One of the great things about Hang Glide Miami is that you, too, can become a certified hang glider. According to their website, you can learn to hang glide under a safe and controlled environment and become certified in half the amount of time as conventional teaching methods. Also, if you go with a group of people but don’t feel like hang gliding, there is a $15 boarding fee that still allows you to experience all the fun and excitement on the boat.
Overall, I had the experience of a lifetime. From the moment I stepped out of my car and every time I reflect back on my experience, I get the biggest smile on my face. This was truly an unexpected yet amazing experience that you must put on and check off your bucket list! The people, the boat, the experience, everything is just so thrilling, one would be a fool not to try it!
Hang Glide Miami now has two special offers. Normally the rate is $179 a person, but now, students can pay just $99 with a student ID card (be sure to bring it with you or rate will not apply). Or, you can pay $135 (saving you $39) in order to receive a free video of your flight!
Trust me, you won’t find deals like this anywhere else nor will you find more passionate people willing to provide you this extraordinary experience. Don’t miss out and call Eric to book your flight today!
Check out the full experience below!
For more information visit www.hangglidemiami.com
words_melissa mallin. photos_courtesy of hang glide miami gopro & melissa mallin.