Have you ever dreamed of flying like a bird? I used to have those dreams all the time when I was a child but the only thing that has even come close to the sensation in my waking life has been a helicopter ride with the doors off The noise and the turbulence cluttered the serene feeling that I remember being the dominant sensation of my flying dreams. Today I tried something I have never done before, it's called paragliding and the feeling is the closest that I have ever experienced to the sensation that I remember from my childhood dreams. A paraglide rig consists of a heavy duty parachute attached to a single or tandem harness along with a backup parachute. It was my first time ever going so I went tandem with an instructor manning the controls in the rear. I was in the front harness, in front of most of the rigging and controls. This vantage point gave me an unobstructed view of the full panorama of ocean views over the North and South shores of Maui. When I looked down at my feet I could see them floating over the tall pines of the of the forests below. The only sound I could hear was the soothing rush of the wind over my ears. It was so quiet that I could not only maintain a conversation with my instructor without raising my voice but also with my father and his instructor who were buzzing around near us for most of the flight. After soaring around the leeward highlands of Maui for a while we came in for a landing. The level of precision that these pilots demonstrated is astounding. My instructor flew us in gliding a few feet above the ground before he "flared" which made us slow down dramatically and then lightly drop onto the grass. I looked over and saw my Dad clapping for joy and pumping his arms up in the air and could do nothing but smile.
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