In a new monthly feature, BarrisTourista will spotlight an adventure travel. This month, Lauren of Outdoorsy Diva, shares highlights of her experience hang gliding in Florida. Here are Lauren’s words:
Just 52 miles east of Tampa, Florida I experienced one of the top 5 all-time exhilarating (and slightly dangerous) adventures of my life. I went hang gliding at Wallaby Ranch, world-renowned school for hang gliders to earn their certifications.
Hang gliding is not exactly the first activity that comes to mind when you think of Florida adventure. However Wallaby Ranch has been a fixture in this state for the last 25 years! When I learned that such a crazy adventure was just an hour away I had to add it to the top of my bucket list.
I talked another daredevil into going with me. Once we found the ranch we had signed our lives away, literally in moments, and before we knew it we were being fitted into our harnesses with our tandem pilots. The winds were starting to change so they wanted to be sure we had time to have our flight.
Just like that we were up, up and away!
So how is this even possible since there aren’t cliffs or mountains to take flight from? At Wallaby they have perfected the technique of air-tow. A small little crop duster plane towed us up in our hang glide and once we reached the desired altitude of 2000 ft, we detached our ropes.
The best way I can describe the feeling is similar to being a human kite. Of course the initial shock of seeing the plane leave us and head down to the ranch was something to reckon with. However, once the shock wore off I looked around and just took it all in.
Birds have the best views of any animal on the planet. We soared and turned at every angle, providing breathtaking views of the horizon and the clouds below. Yes…I said the clouds were below us! It was surreal.
The best part of the flight was seeing something not many can say they have seen in their lifetimes. I saw the “pilot’s halo”. When the sun was behind us and the clouds were below us, the light refracted in such a way that it formed a rainbow circle around our silhouette. I was literally squealing because I had never heard of this phenomenon, let alone seen one.
I will cherish that moment for a lifetime! It’s also captured very faintly on the action camera video footage.
We had almost 20 minutes of flight time, which I was worried would be too long. Once we were up there I didn’t want to come back down. Unfortunately that’s not how gravity works.
On the way down to land, my tandem pilot gave me complete control of the hang glide. So naturally I was cool as cucumber and guided us down safely. No, not really. I freaked out when I realized it was all on me so that didn’t last too long.
Once we landed, I was on an adventure high! Who wouldn’t be after being able to say you touched a cloud! My adrenaline was pumping and I just couldn’t calm down. One flight just wasn’t enough. That most certainly won’t be my last visit to Wallaby Ranch.
Things to know before you go hang gliding in Florida
- Cost: $170
- Attire: Something comfy! Just remember depending upon the time of year it can be quite chilly up there in the clouds.
- Reservations: Highly encouraged to call ahead of time to book your slot. They will also have to confirm that the weather and winds are right. They are all about safety!
Read the play-by-play commentary of this adventure and see video footage from the flight on Lauren’s blog, Misadventures of an Outdoorsy Diva.
Lauren Gay is the creator of the Misadventures of an Outdoorsy Diva blog. Her mission is to inspire other women, moms, and singles just like her to live adventurously, step out of their comfort zones, and explore the world around them. Lauren is a single mom to one son and they have done everything from kayaking with alligators, to zip lining, to snorkeling in an underground prehistoric cave, to swimming with manatees, to glamping, and even deep sea fishing.
She has been to 10 countries and counting and she is always in search of the next great adventure. Lauren encourages her readers and members of her online Facebook community, Adventure Is A Lifestyle, to live life as one great big adventure. She shares her adventures in travel, food, and the great outdoors. She also aims to defy cultural stereotypes and bring more awareness to minorities of the outdoors and highlights other unconventional activities minorities are often assumed not to take an interest in. Read about her adventures on www.OutdoorsyDiva.com and follow her on Instagram: @OutdoorsyDiva.