On the mark of our 1 year anniversary I told my boyfriend I would like to go for a tandem paragliding flight at Signal Hill. Knowing the pilots at Icarus Paragliding he booked me a tandem flight as an anniversary present. Finally this dream turned into a reality. I was so excited to be up in the air, flying over the beautiful mother city, Cape Town that I grew up in that I couldn’t sleep that night and it was of utmost importance I got enough sleep so that I didn’t have circles under my eyes for when we take photos. You never know if you will experience it again so photos and videos are an absolute must and of course you need to look good in them.
The previous nights excitement and outfit picking led me to over sleep. I realized with a shock I only had an hour before my flight! Everything was so rushed. I had to do my hair and make up in the car while texting the Icarus pilots letting them know that I was running late. I panicked as I realized… I still needed to take pre-paragliding selfies while sipping on my cup of coffee. The pilot, Jean and myself were texting back and forth because he wanted to know where I was? As me being late had a massive snow ball effect on their operation and that ultimately I will miss my flight…. “I am not giving up” I said to myself as I drove through the traffic. Give me just 5 more minutes I texted Jean. Okay but only 5 minutes he replied.
Arriving 10 minutes late Jean greeted, “Are you ready to have the most fun ever?”. “I think so” I said smiling broadly. “Okay let’s go” he said. We started off by signing the indemnity forms, he then strapped me into the harness (that’s what they call the seat you sit in) and gave me a briefing where they remind you to run when they say run and not to sit until the pilots says so. They explained to me that in paragliding they run off the mountain and don’t jump like sky divers. Strapped in ready to go my heart started pounding “Are you nervous” Jean asked. “A bit” I replied. “Nothing to be nervous about I’ll take good care of you” Jean said as he was checking his lines.
Jean shouted “launching” so everyone around us knew we were about to take off. As he pulled the paraglider up it felt like it wanted to pull me backwards. To help me there were two men, they are called porters, one on each side of me holding the harness helping me stay on my feet while the paraglider was being pulled up.
“Run, run, run” Jean shouted from behind me. Before I knew it my feet where off the ground. “Okay you can sit” Jean said. “Are you comfortable?” “Yes” I replied sitting there in amazement to what I was witnessing. I sat and stared at my surrounds for the first 4 minutes not saying anything which then was followed by the only 3 sentences that could come out of my mouth “Oh my gosh this is so amazing”, “This is sooo cool”, “Everything is so beautiful from up here” followed by lots of smiles and giggles. The views where spectacular unlike any view of cape town I had ever seen. (It definitely is the best way to see Cape Town). I could see Lions Head, Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Town Stadium, The harbour, Camps Bay Beach and Green Point Beach. The ocean was so blue and looked so peaceful with slow moving ships.
Flying over the city Jean gave me the handles (the paragliding term for the handles is toggles, it’s what the paragliders use to steer the glider). I was literally holding the toggles, flying myself! The level of concentration that I had was ridiculous as the glider was flying forward by itself and I was probably over thinking this way to much….
Above the landing area (which is at the Promenade in Sea Point apposite the Winchester Mansion Hotel). I was given the paragliding rollercoaster (I don’t and won’t elaborate to much as I want you to have something special to look forward to when you paraglide with Icarus Paragliding like I did) which left me looking like a cartoon that drank way to many happy pills. My smile was so wide the sides of my mouth could almost touch my ears, while jumping up and down from the adrenaline rush and having a feeling of accomplishment. I shouted out to my boyfriend “I want to paraglide”. “I want to learn how to paraglide”. “I want to paraglide myself!!”
Words cannot fully describe the emotions, thoughts and feelings I experienced from the beginning to the end of the flight. I think the most amazing aspect of paragliding is that we all experience it differently and that’s what makes this sport so special. While learning how to paraglide I’ve learnt every day is different, how different? You’ll have to wait until next week to find out.