Leonardo Da Vinci said, “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Little did I know that one day, this would make so much sense to me…
I've never been an adrenaline junkie. Roller coasters? They have me tremble and cry like a little girl! Zip-lining, cable-car rides, anything in the sky, I avoid as much as I can. I don’t mind flying on airplanes, but only when I really have to, because I don’t see myself crossing the ocean otherwise…
Flying like a bird
In Lebanon, one of the popular paragliding launch spots is in Ghosta, above Harissa, approximately 750 meters above sea level. A spot overhanging the bay of Jounieh that allows for amazing flight scenic. So that’s where we’re heading. Once at the launch spot, this is where I start wondering what the heck I’m doing. My pilot, Willy, from Fly Lebanon Paragliding, gives me a crash course on what’s going to happen, and what I’m supposed to do. In short, we just run right off the mountain… Once I’m all harnessed and secured, we just wait for about a minute for the “right wind” to come along. Right there, I starting praying, and feel the incredible urge to pee. That’s however when Willy shouts: “Yalla Pascale, 1, 2, 3, walk! Just head towards the cliff!” Barely two or three steps, the drag force from the parachute was so strong, that gently, almost effortlessly, the parachute extended above us and the Earth fell away as we slipped into sky, a few feet away from the end of the mountain face. Willy and I were air bound, paragliding over the beautiful coast. The world was quiet for a full 10 seconds. I have never gone through the roller coaster of emotions I experienced that day. A major breakthrough.
Slowly and steadily, we were pushed through the air by wind, as if gravity stopped working. Willy chatted a bit with me, trying to distract me from my fear. But I was only enamored by the view. With the sunlight breaking out over the sea, giving it a golden tinge, I felt it was the first time I made acquaintance with the beautiful Mediterranean. When Willy suggested a few loops, for the fun of it, I mumbled a shy OK. So the canopy started to twirl into loops. It felt a bit fast and the view around me suddenly turned blurry. I could see fragments of green, blue and gold. It was exhilarating, but I was happy when it stopped.
As the sea got closer, the view of the beach jumped into my sight. There was a surreal moment, right before we landed, like a cartoonist effect to everything I saw. The houses, streets and pedestrians jumped into my sight, looking like they were from a video game, everything was so peaceful.
Thoughts and feelings…
Throughout the flight, I was feeling pure joy and ecstasy. It was incredible looking down from my seat, seeing myself float above Earth, suspended by nothing but a canopy and a harness, with everything below – cars, people, buildings –going about their own routine, without a care in the world, without even knowing that I was up there flying and having the time of my life! Being up in the air made the world feel tiny. It also made my problems, concerns, and thoughts seem tiny. Up there in the sky, nothing matters. All you experience is purity and serenity. Today, I can fully understand why people would fall in love with paragliding, and I’m thankful to tandem-pilots like Willy for showing this aspect of the world to non-paragliders like me. Without him, I would never have gotten to fly at all. The way I see things today has considerably shifted: I finally got to think that we all should try at least once in our lifetime something extreme. It tingles your senses and gives you some perspective, even if unconsciously.
All in all: I will definitely do it again!
Paragliding is unlike any other feeling in the world. You can walk up a mountain and fly off. It’s an amazing feeling to harness the power of the wind and feel it rushing past you as you gently float along. I can honestly say that it’s the type of experience that will have you quit all other hobbies and maybe even lose contact with non-flying friends! ☺ As much as I try to explain the freedom of flight, I can never find words to express the thrill. It cannot be explained, it must be felt. I have never experienced such exhilaration and excitement than when I was suspended in the air. Paragliding gave me the chance to try and understand the earth from above, viewing it through different eyes. And it helped me gain respect of the natural forces surrounding us that are out of this world.I want to thank my pilot, Willy. He is mellow, has a very professional approach, is uncompromising with safety, and inspires confidence ; yet, he managed to make it unbelievably FUN for me! I could not imagine trying this experience with anyone else.
If you're interested in Paragliding, check out FLY Lebanon Paragliding!
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