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Tennessee: Flying High at Lookout Mountain

July 4, 2011 by · Comments Off on Tennessee: Flying High at Lookout Mountain 

Lookout Mountain Flight Park

Flying High

 

Look out below; it’s a bird; it’s a plane; it’s me– hang gliding at Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

 

Woo-hoo and a hoot-hoot! I feel like an owl soaring through the sky on unfurled wings. The cloudless day blesses me with gorgeous views, rather like looking out the window of a low flying airplane, but…without the plane.

 

I’ve always dreamed of flying; as a kid I longed to leap from the window and soar off to Never Never Land like Peter Pan and Wendy. A few years ago, although scared, I jumped at the opportunity to sky dive. The incredible experience left me empowered enough to try just about anything. So, when a chance to go tandem hang gliding appeared, I knew I would go.

 

The outing began at mountain top where I found the pro shop and offices of Lookout Mountain Flight Park. Waivers and releases were signed and temporary student registration cards handed out. I wasn’t just going along for a ride, I was taking a lesson.

 


I drove back down the mountain to the flight school which sits within a 44-acre grassy field.  Here I met Dan Zink, manager, who had me step into a flight jacket of sorts with lots of tabs, hooks and rings. Then, a group of first timers assembled to watch a video and complete a short written test.

Suiting Up

 

Soon my pilot, the charismatic Eric Grue, called my name. He had just landed an earlier flight. Eric strapped me in a harness, more like a sling, as I lay face down in a horizontal position. Space was tight so I needed to snuggle up next to him, with my right arm over his back– one of the benefits for sure. The glider has wheels on a frame which allows it to be tethered to an ultra-light plane for take-off. Therefore, I did not need to fling myself off a cliff.

Getting into the Gear

 

The plane rolled down the field and slowly took off; we followed behind lifting with ease. No fairy dust needed; I was Peter Pan. The flight was surprisingly quiet but I could feel the rush of the wind on my face. Whew, pure exhilaration. Eric answered my questions and I had total faith in him- especially after he told me he had earned a Ph.D.

 

When the pilot reached 2,000 feet, the tether was released and our free flight began. I had a rush of euphoria but simultaneous calm; I think that’s a state of enlightenment. I honestly felt sereneness and joy.

 

Amanda Jobe, another first- time glider said afterward, “It was amazing. All my problems went away up there. It was the best way ever to start a day.”

Eric instructed me on how to control flight, “Push your hips and legs toward the left and the glider turns left. Want to go right, do the opposite. Pull forward on the bar and we’ll go faster, push back and we slow down.”

 

The technique was simple and I thought to myself “totally radical.” In that instant of ecstasy I forgot I was a sixty year-old grandmother. Instead I felt like one of those super cool Olympic snowboarders.

I’m still flying high.

If you go:

 

Lookout Mountain Flight Park is the largest hang gliding school and resort in the United States. Every year they teach, certify and solo five times as many pilots as any other school. Their 110-acre resort boasts cabins, bunkhouses and camping on site.

 

Lookout Mountain Flight Park
7201 Scenic Highway
Rising Fawn, GA  30738
800/688-5637 (toll-free)

www.hanglide.com

For other fun activities in the Chattanooga area please visit www.chattanoogafun.com

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Staycation is the buzz word in travel

August 4, 2008 by · Comments Off on Staycation is the buzz word in travel 

Kyacking along the Chain of Lakes

Kayaking in Central Florida

With gas prices soaring over four dollars a gallon, summer vacations are taking a hit. "Staycation" is the buzz word: meaning stay near home on your vacation.

Florida residents are fortunate to have many choices within the Sunshine State. Naturally, Orlando boasts world-famous theme parks and the Space Coast offers tours of the Kennedy Center.

Jacksonville touts some fantastic parks and beaches along with neighboring Amelia Island and St. Simon's. St. Augustine is always a popular destination and renovated Marineland isn't far down Interstate 95. Check out the changes and the new educational one-on-one dolphin encounters.

But if you're hankering to go a little further from home, consider some off the beaten track adventures in Central Florida.

Westgate River Ranch presents a 1,700 acre Dude Ranch complete with authentic rodeo, campfires and singing cowboys. A petting zoo, pony rides and swimming pool keep little ones happy. Adults can try trail riding or drive cattle in a round-up. In addition, swamp buggy and airboat rides splash some great fun. Watch out for the alligators! The facility offers hotel rooms for as little as $ 89.00 a night, for a family of four with kitchen.

Bi-Plane rides return from barnstorming days and appeal to anyone interested in aviation history. For $65, fly in the open cockpit of a 1929 D-25, complete with leather helmet and scarf tied around your neck. Visit Fantasy of Flight in Lake Wales.

How about something even more adventuresome? Skydiving! Tandem jumps are safe and designed for first time adventurers. I personally assure, the thrill will never be forgotten. I loved it! Florida boasts 14 certified centers, such as nearby Jacksonville, Deland, Lake Wales and Orlando. Each location delights participants with different scenic views.

Kayaking is a cool summer activity and easy to learn. Spend a day paddling and gliding by tall cypress trees, prickly cabbage palms and blue herons. Reasonable rental rates are obtainable on lakes or rivers through the state. Try the famous Chain of Lakes— sixteen freshwater lakes connected by a series of canals in Winter Haven.

Fishing? While Jacksonville offers the Kingfish Tournament; central Florida is the large-mouth bass fishing capital of the world.

Southern Belle at Cypress Gardens

Anyone dig Gardening? Cypress Gardens, Florida's first tourist park founded in 1936, display immense topiary creations as well as a botanical sanctuary. You'll find the gardens photography worthy, along with beautiful hoop-skirted Southern belles.

Of course, the park's famous Ski Show Spectacular still jumps with athletic and acrobatic feats, including the signature human-pyramid of skiers. Newly added water park rides, a heart pounding roller coaster and other amusement thrill rides are on site.

Bok Towers

For something more peaceful, meander around Bok Towers and gardens. Tranquil resting places are tucked into the lushly landscape of ferns, oaks and pines. Listen to the singing bell tower or consider attending a special summer carillon concert.

This summer play near Jacksonville for super staycation fun, or add the price of a tank of gas and explore the middle of our state.

For further information visit:
www.wgriverranch.com
www.Floridaskydiving.com
www.fantasyofflight.com
www.cypressgardens.com
www.boksantuary.org

This article appeared in the August issue of The Creekline

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