Monday, November 06, 2006

Take off!

So, here you have it. Rather than the leap of faith I had imagined, I stepped into that awkward harness thing and felt like a five-year-old as a staff member pulled on this and adjusted that and stuck the velcro around my legs.

Then came the helmet, which I could not tell by feel how to fasten, so someone had to do that for me, too. It really did remind me of being a little child.

The funny thing is that I had bought a "hoodie" (silly word, I think) of this beautiful blue knit specially for the occasion. It would keep me warm, the color was perfect for my eyes, and I thought the hood added a rather dramatic look to my wavy hair. I seriously thought about how good it would look in the pictures that would be made. It reminded me of the French Lieutenant's Woman in her cape.

This--my body covered in black nylon, my hair and head smashed by a plastic helmet--was not the dramatic scene I had envisioned.

I did not feel bold and adventurous.

But eventually I was proclaimed ready, hooked into the glider as I mentioned earlier, and just hung suspended there while Eric got into his place to my right side and explained how things worked.

Each harness outfit has handles on either side. I was instructed to hold onto Eric's handles for take-off. It seemed a little funny at first to be putting my arms around a total stranger, but there was so much padding around each of us that it wasn't really at all like putting your arms around a total stranger. It was like holding onto two handles for safety. Besides, all energy was so focused on what was about to happen that I didn't really have time to think about it, and he obviously was very used to this protocol.

(In the photos it looks more like we are stacked on top of each other. But we were actually side by side, although he was a little lower most of the time. I'm not sure how that worked, but I think it has to do with when you're holding onto the bar and pulling, it must pull the front of your body down. And when your hands are elsewhere, your shoulders get pulled upward. That's my theory, anyway.)

So, with my arms safely in their place and unable to wave around, grab anything, or cause any sort of commotion, Eric held onto the bar that makes the bottom of the triangle, and with eyes on the little red airplane, off we went.

As I said, it wasn't as dramatic as leaping off the mountainside. But it was fun!


Lisa said...

Sheila Vamplin! You are so funny! Who else would want to look like The French Lieutenant's Woman while they're hang gliding?

You absolutely crack me up.

Miriam said...

Oh, Sheila, this sounds wonderful. I know it wasn't as romantic to look and think about once you where there (so glad you didn't leap off a mountain just for the romantic flare of it:), but it looks decisevily fun, a real good 'high', and something to be really excited about. Jon wants to do this so bad after reading about it. Me too actually (I think it is much cooler than trying to just jump off a plane or ---gulp---bellay (spel?) off a cliff like Jon wants me to do. I can climb but there is something of letting you go SLOWLY off the edge!)
Enough about me. I love the pictures. Where is you in your cape, with the wind blowing your hair like waves in the ocean?
Love you! Miriam

Miriam said...

Sheila, I want to do this too! After reading this Jon said he'd love to try it. I know it didn't seem as romantic while you were going through it, but the spirit is there! Plus, it is just plain exciting, you felt like a child, but it was child-like wonder you described:) Where is your blue cape and a picture of you in it with the wind blowing your hair like waves in the ocean? Love you! Miriam

Miriam said...

Sheila, I left you two messages b/c I am weird and don't understand blog. I thought the first hadn't been posted b/c I wrote too much! So now you know...not a computer wiz. :)

Sheila said...

Lisa--Well, I didn't actually have the conscious thought, "I want to look like the FLW" when I bought the hooded sweater (labeled in the store as a "hoodie.")

I just liked the look of the hood, and then as I was writing the blog, that's the image that came to me.

And don't tell me I'm the only one who looks in the mirror with such ideas. I think it's normal for anyone who is not out of touch with their "inner child" and that imagination.

Aren't you the same Lisa of "Zoom" fame some years back? Don't tell me that has completely gone away...

Anyway, the point was that whatever I wore didn't matter, because I look like every other hang glider with all that contraption and helmet on.

Sheila said...

Miriam--Stay tuned for wonder and romance part. But, alas, there will be no romantic picture of me in this whole thing.

My hair did blow a lot, though.

I hope you can do it someday. How about in March with a group of us from Memphis???

Lawrence Underwood said...


In reality I've never looked in the mirror and desired to look like any woman I've every seen.

Great stuff, little sister.

Sheila said...

I did not expect such an interpretation of the comments, but admittedly am relieved to hear this from you, Lawrence.

(But don't you have some connections between the mirror and costumes from another place and time?)

Lawrence Underwood said...

I'll never tell!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sheila. Anne-Geri' here. I don't have a blog anymore so I guess I'm 'anonymous.' Hmm.

Anyhoo, it was great to see the pics. I am SO glad you got to do it and let me know if you want me to join you next time. I used the $$ I had saved for hang-gliding and went on a cheap cruise last week. It was pretty fun! Maybe YOU should join me for THAT sometime! :-)

The hang-gliding pics are fabulous!!!