One of the oldest human dreams is to fly like the birds. In the Greek mythology, Icarus and his father Daedalus tried to escape from their exile on the island of Crete by building themselves wings made out of feathers and wax…. but Icarus was so fascinated to feel like a bird that he came to close to the sun, the wax melted and he felt down in the sea….
Today, some crazy human beings are still trying to fly: the paragliders
Paragliding is in the same time a beautiful activity to look at and a high precision “extreme” sport. The paragliders are fulfilling one of the oldest dreams of human beings: to fly like the birds…. Nowadays, flying, or more precisely travelling through the airs, seems to be a “normal” way to go faster from one point to another. But that isn’t really “flying” when you’re comfortably sitting in an airplane….
The paragliders are really flying in the airs with only a minimum equipment and the sensation to see the world from above, to feel free like a bird!
I went once to a paragliders meeting and once to a training session, and the “show” was fabulous: the flying point was in the Bavarian forest on a beautiful hill opening on a huge landscape and a perfect blue sky. The view was fascinating, but looking at the para gliders jumping in the wide blue sky and flying like birds was really fascinating. The preparation of the equipment is done very precisely, very slowly and the gliders are always looking at the sky to see how the wind (& clouds) is acting, in which direction you must jump to have the perfect wind. And they’re very patient too, sometimes there is no wind, or not enough, or a bad direction, etc… but when it’s ok, you must be ready and jump in the minute, because the conditions can change very quickly. After a while, you can see all these colored points in the sky, flying in different directions and this is really beautiful!
The training session I saw was a bit less spectacular, but very interesting about the techniques to take of the ground and fly away. The spot was a little hill, just enough to take of a few meters and test the material and your physical condition. you need to be very precise and careful with the glider, to have a very strong hand to be the one who guides it and not to be guided by the wind. It’s not only a matter of physical power, it’s really a matter of technique and precision.
I could try it out during this training session and it was very impressing. the wind is so powerfull, and you always must have the control f it, using your both hands to pull more on this or this side and don’t loose the control of the wind.