Rio de Janeiro Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
June 10th, 1995 – by: cygnus16
Throughout my life Iâ€™ve been fascinated by anything to do with aircraft and flying. So, when the opportunity presented itself for me to take a tandem hang glider flight during a visit to Rio de Janeiro I couldnâ€™t resist. After a short bus ride from Rio I arrived at Pepino Beach where I hooked up with a couple of Brazilian guys with an old Volkswagon which had a disassembled, red hang glider secured to the roof. As we drove up the steep winding road to the platform at the summit (520 meters - 1675 ft. above sea level) I started wondering what the deuce I had gotten myself into this time. Up on top, while waiting for my pilot (a young kid in his early 20â€™s) and his assistant to assemble the glider, I started to feel a bit queasy as I peered out over an edge of the platform at the rooftops of some skyscrapers far below. Judging from the pungent odor wafting through the air around me, it occurred to me that there were some folks up on that platform who were flying pretty high already without any need of a hang glider. ;-) I hoped my pilot wasnâ€™t one of them. When the glider was ready, the pilot had me strap on a crash helmet and gave me a few rudimentary instructions about hang gliding. Even though Iâ€™m not Catholic, I genuflected and mumbled, â€śMadre de Diosâ€ť, to the great amusement of my pilot. He then buckled us into a web - like contraption which positioned me behind him and left our arms and legs free. Since we were not â€śnumber one on the runwayâ€ť, we had to wait for a couple of other gliders ahead of us to take off. As we were waiting there, a white hang glider came swooshing over our heads from somewhere behind us, rising on the updraft, and making tight, swooping turns, just barely missing the nearby treetops. My pilot told me that it was just his brother having a little fun. Finally it was our turn to take off and........one, two, three, we went running hell bent for leather off the end of the platform. Whatever fears I might have had about this dubious adventure quickly evaporated. As soon as we were airborne I felt as secure as if I were aboard a 747........but with a strong wind blasting my face and an incredible, panoramic view below. There, far below us, was Pepino Beach and the blue Atlantic Ocean beyond. The cluster of condominiums at one end of the beach looked like little matchboxes stuck endways in the sand. Instead of descending, as I had expected weâ€™d do, we began to rise quickly on the strong updrafting air currents, circling like some huge bird of prey riding a thermal. After making several runs up and down the length of Pepino Beach the pilot let me handle the control bar and I had some fun banking the glider through a few turns. With all that cold, rushing wind making my eyes water it was sometimes difficult for me to see. There was some pretty heavy air traffic up there that day. When weâ€™d come close to other hang gliders and para gliders, my pilot would screech like an eagle at his fellow birdmen .....â€ťEeeaaaaah, eeeaaaaahâ€ť, and theyâ€™d screech back at him. :) After spending more than half an hour aloft we turned into the wind for our final approach and made a perfect four point landing on Pepino Beach. Wow, what a ride! For photos and information about hang gliding at Pepino Beach : http://www.rioturismoradical.com.br/hanggliding.htm
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