Paragliding: Stepping out of the Box von Fritz

Fritz Ndoko

Fritz ist im April Tandemparagleiten am Gaisberg gewesen und schreibt uns wie es ihm dabei ergangen ist. Vor allem auch seine Gefühle wie er sich dazu entschlossen hat.

It was night time when a friend I came across in Austria known as the King of Salzburg, or V, mentioned that he was going to do a tandem flight on the next day that I got to thinking, “What is a tandem flight?” He explained that basically you go flying with an instructor for about 30 minutes and it is a great experience. I was hesitant from the beginning so I decided I would walk around Salzburg and explore the city on my own while he did the tandem flight. I was however eager to find out how it went.

We met later at the hostel we were staying at and he told me all about it. Running off a cliff, and having the wind pull you up even higher were things that did not sit too well with me. Again, I told him I would pass on it, to which he replied, “You only live once. You have to try to get out of your box, and go through different experiences… ones which you would not otherwise do. There is a wonderful opportunity here for you to do this, so try it.” He gave me the instructor’s card to call and book my appointment. After much contemplating, I called and booked my spot.

The next day at noon, V and I drove with the instructor to an unbelievable height on the mountain. I went through the formalities, paid the required fee, and signed my life away: literally. All the while, V was laughing at my plight. I looked confident on the outside, but on the inside my heart was racing. I peered down at the town below and the mountains in the far distance, and said to myself, “If things go wrong, at least I went out trying something new.” And with that, my fear was temporarily conquered.

The instructor and I walked to one end of the mountain where you could see the city below and waited for the right amount of wind to come before making a push for it. Unfortunately it never came, so we went to another side of the mountain with nothing but trees below. I immediately asked the instructor if I could close my eyes as we ran off the cliff but he said no; it was even more dangerous doing so as I could trip and fall and put both of our lives at further risk. “You have to see where you are running to”, he said. But in my mind, I sarcastically thought, “Both of our lives are already in danger.” With the right burst of wind, he counted to three and I ran as hard as I could, my heart rate racing, beating forcefully against my chest wall, and we jumped off the cliff. Right away the wind pulled us up even higher! After those initial seconds, there was a calm that floated around me. At that instance, I said to myself, “This is how a bird must feel;” for the world seemed so small at this elevation.

The flight was serene and peaceful. It was a new experience that I was glad to have tried for the first time. There is an even greater chance that I will do it again someday. It was 30 minutes of my life that was not in any way wasted.

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