Although mankind was born without wings, it may come close to getting them. There is a new world still to be discovered less than one hour's drive away from Buenos Aires. Believe it or not.
The practice of this wonderful activity reflects the essence of human beings, their spirit and the possibility of satisfying the dream that the comic books from childhood and the common sense from adulthood have come to show and deny at the same time: the marvelous dream of flying that man has always had and will never lose.
“A bird” is the most common answer when somebody is asked what they would like to be in their next life. Freedom is the most appropriate word to explain this feeling of being suspended in the air watching everything from the heights, using nature as the only combustion power. Free flight does not discriminate gender or age. Anyone who has set up that aim, can succeed. But why is it necessary to wait for the next life to come when we can do it in this one?
Until one decade ago, hanggliding was considered a dangerous sport and the reasons for such judgment were more than enough. It was practiced only in mountain areas and the teams that came to our country were too advanced for the level of piloting in these latitudes. There were no instructors and the ones profiting from this activity could not teach because they did not have enough knowledge. This led trainees to learn from their own flights, which resulted in mistakes, ignorance, blows, fractures and even fatal accidents.
One of the free flight modalities
Imitate the birds
Freedom is the most appropriate word
But while all that took place here, the developed countries as regards free flight (Australia, Germany and the United States) would advance by leaps and bounds in this activity. And those who recognized the local situation in time, were forced to emigrate to the cradles of hanggliding in order to enhance their practice of this exciting activity. And there they went.
Such is the case of Flavio Galliusi and Alejandro Giménez, who met an Australian pilot in a champeonship in La Rioja who proposed them to travel to his native country in order to work at a wing factory and in flight centers so as to learn all the secrets of hanggliding.
Thus, in addition to flying with the best pilots in the world, they discovered the most advanced training system, for those who do not live in mountain areas but on plain areas without high spots for taking off to enjoy hanggliding.
This system is called aerotowing. A small ultralight plane labeled as the most slowly on the planet tows the hangglider and raises it to a height of about seven hundred meters. The hangglider is released at the desired height and, from there, the pilot starts the flight searching for thermal currents that will enable him to go up and remain in the air for a longer time. As a parameter, in the areas surrounding Buenos Aires, it is possible to remain in the air for over three hours until the pilot resolves to land on a day with good weather conditions.
The most important advantage in this training system is that trainees are not alone. Nowadays, flights follow the tandem modality (trainees are accompanied by the instructor), which is the main way to learn at the most advanced flight centers in Australia and the United States.
In the past, this knowledge used to be impossible to transmit and should be experienced by each pilot. At present, flying practice is complemented by a deep theoretical background that includes videos, notes, books and lectures, not only on flying but also on all the aspects regarding weather conditions, geography and meteorology, as it is necessary to know the environment across which we are moving in order to understand it. Likewise, instructors dictate special courses for trainees to become adapted to the mountain, a mystic and unique place for lovers of free flights.
Today, it can be asserted that hanggliding is the best way man has found to imitate the birds. And today it is possible to find this fascinating activity only 45 minutes from the City of Buenos Aires and enjoy a unique experience that will no longer be exclusive for the feathered creatures.
Because, just like brilliant Leonardo pointed out, “when once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return”.
Pablo Etchevers Gentileza FlyRanch Buenos Aires
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