The Three Amigos Go Paragliding

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Paragliding
Martin signs his life away
Martin signs his life away

This past Saturday morning, Martin and I awoke at the unusually early hour of 7 am.

Clint had suggested we go paragliding, and since it had been on my to-do list for three months, I was excited to check it off.

While it would be the first time for both of the other guys, my initial flight was last year in Pokhara, Nepal.

Martin and I took the metro to Caribe, where we met up with Clint and walked over to the northern bus station.

The folks at Aeroclub had given Clint the number of the proper bus counter (17) which made getting to their office easy.

We bought tickets to San Felix, and boarded the 9 am bus that was just about to leave.

Clint checks out the take off/landing zone
Clint checks out the takeoff/landing zone

Over the next 50 minutes, the bus slowly winded its way out of the valley until we arrived at a group of restaurants and paragliding offices on the right side of the road.

We met Ricardo, our pilot for the day and completed the necessary release forms.

The cost for a tandem paraglide of 25 minutes?  80,000 pesos, or about $32 (cash only).  I can’t imagine you will find much cheaper in the world!

Ricardo guides Martin off the mountain
Ricardo guides Martin off the mountain

We walked up a hill opposite the offices and arrived at a wide open green space that would serve as the takeoff and landing zone.

It was a beautiful day, though a little hazy.

Clint was fully prepared to protect himself from the sun at 2,400 meters while I was forced to wear my black hooded sweatshirt due to lack of proper planning.

Martin was the first to fly, and it was fun to watch him ride the thermals up, up and away.

At times, he was probably about 500 meters above us, around an altitude of 3,000 meters (above sea level) overall.

Large eagles and vultures were cruising around which reminded me of my flight in Nepal.  Martin had a good landing.

Martin takes flight
Martin takes flight

Next up was Clint, and he had a similar flight as Martin.  Flying high, landing well.

Ricardo then asked me if two other customers could go before me.

An extra hour of waiting around was a bit much, especially since I knew the weather could change, and I’d have to either wait longer or come back another day.

We compromised, and he took up one of the two customers before me.

Clints perfect landing
Clint’s perfect landing

And then it was my turn.  Feeling little to no anxiety, I put the harness on and received my instructions from Ricardo to run.

I ran, and towards the end, did something wrong.  Maybe I stopped running too soon or didn’t lean back into my seat soon enough.

Either way, I just remember the tops of my feet being dragged against the grass as we ran out of time and ground.

We dipped down pretty low after the takeoff, and then gained altitude.

Later, Clint and Martin were sure to point out my muffed take off by showing me the video (to be posted on YouTube and here at a later time).

A birds eye view of the landing zone
A bird’s eye view of the landing zone

Up in the air though, it was much louder than in Pokhara, where I distinctly remember a quiet, tranquil experience.

I was much higher above the ground this time though, and probably moving faster too.

Ricardo and I chatted as we swooped around in circles looking for the thermals.  Down below and on mountains far away, beautiful green landscapes unfolded.

Cows were munching on the grass near their owners’ homes.  A giant waterfall I couldn’t see from the takeoff area.  Downtown Medellin in the distance.

Ricardo, the pilot, had been paragliding and flying other things like hand gliders for 20 years, so I knew I was in good hands.

Unfortunately, he was having trouble finding the thermals on my flight, and, as a result, the first three-quarters of the flight were at the same altitude as the takeoff area.

I know this because I was excited to keep an eye on my watch’s altimeter.

Toward the flight’s end, we found a thermal and rose about 200 meters in altitude that positioned us well to land.

And unlike the takeoff, my landing was perfect.

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Medellín Paragliding Tour

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