For my birthday this spring, Erin bought two gift certificates to go paragliding just outside of Freiburg. To comprehend the enormity of the fact that she bought two, you have to understand – Erin is very afraid of heights. Like, legs hurt when near the edge of a balcony afraid. But she loves me enough to come along anyway (fist pump!).
I’ve never done anything like paragliding before, so I was excited. And if I’m being honest, a bit nervous. With only one pilot, we had to take turns, and gentleman that I am, I went first (to make sure the parachute worked, of course). So, leaving Erin at the landing site, we drove 20 minutes to the top of Kandel, a rather large hill overlooking Waldkirch, which itself is a small town north of Freiburg in the Black Forest. Once there, the pilot laid out the parachute while I peered over the edge of the hill we were about to run off, wondering if paragliding was for geniuses or idiots. Now that I’m safely on the ground, I think it requires a little of both.
After strapping me into the harness/seat, we practiced running. The pilot needed to make sure I could handle both of the commands he would use – “lauf!” (run) and “sitz!” (sit). It turns out, even a dog can tandem-glide successfully.
After one practice run, it was time to fly! And for the tandem ride, my job really was a simple as running off the side of the hill, then sitting back into the seat on command.
Being in the air was just like being on a small boat. There was a breeze, the seat rocked back and forth a bit, and the parachute slowly took us up and down, as though we were riding over rolling waves. Of course, the view was a lot better. We flew over the top of Kandel, and slowly made our way back to Waldkirch over the span of 23 minutes. Along the way, we looked at Freiburg from afar, and the hills and forest in the Breisgau region. It was a spectacular sight.
Once back on the ground, I high-fived Erin, helped pack up the parachute for her turn, and watched her float down from the hill. He must’ve known she didn’t like heights, because her flight lasted nearly 40 minutes. Maybe he was trying to desensitize her to heights?
Anyway, thanks Erin, for such a unique and awesome experience!