A paragliding expert guides our flight enabling us to imagine other ways to fly beyond the traditional modalities.
Leaving San Miguel de Tucumán
along Mate de Luna Avenue, an area of good restaurants and cafés
at Yerba Buena, we went to El Corte as far as Loma Bola in order to meet Aldo Carona, who has been an instructor and a pilot for eight years, for our first paragliding flight.
It is a winding and narrow, but well-marked, road towards the Sierra San Javier Park. The vegetation slowly changes into green yunga
upholstering the walls to both sides of the route. We could see Hotel Club Sol at San Javier, a five-star hotel with spa and conference rooms. We were told that in winter the peak of Mount San Javier is covered with snow and ice. We went past a viewpoint and the Cristo Bendicente
(Blessing Christ). We were at Villa Nougues
heading for San Javier to reach Loma Bola.
Even though at the beginning we were very excited, something in the air told us that perhaps we would change our minds one minute before putting on our harnesses. However, we had heard much about the experience of a tandem flight with a licensed instructor and we did not want to lose the chance to float in the air blown by the wind and thermals. So, we would think about it as we traveled.On the Edge of Sky
Due to its geographical location and excellent weather conditions, Loma Bola is considered to be an ideal take-off site allowing safety flights all year round. Many flight schools work in this way and, in addition, this is the main meeting point for local and international paragliders.
We reached our destination and the first view was superb: a great number of multicolored wings lay on the grass. While many instructors prepared their equipment, some families got ready for the flight. It was incredible to sit down on the ground and see these huge wings take off as they filled up to get up speed.
We were formally introduced to instructor Aldo Carona, who showed us the “aircraft” and his flight instruments. It is similar to two armchairs: the pilot sits at the back and lets the passenger be in front of him. Aldo explained to us how this equipment works and gave us the basic information we needed in order to feel calm during the journey.
Eduardo was the first to try this experience. Fearless and decisive, he applied the maneuvers taught by Aldo.
Moving on Tip Toes
We paid attention to the importance of these first steps to begin our short but intense race to the cliff in order to challenge the force the wing exerts backwards. Both participants try to match their pace until the ground vanishes and inexplicably they are airborne.
They took off and there was a sort of calmness, as if they remained always in the same place. A short surveillance flight and this time the thermals allowed them to land on the same spot.
Now, it was our turn. Aldo told us how we should sit down on the seat for a pleasing journey. A soft breeze hit our face, but it was so gentle that it did not bother us, and, besides, it allowed us to talk while he guided the maneuvers. He told us about the thermals behavior and our flight direction. While seeking winds that would pull us upwards, he recommended not looking downwards to avoid suffering from dizziness.
Now feeling more relaxed, we enjoyed the green color of the tree groves and the blue sky. Farther away, the city showed its usual fog as a result of a high rate of humidity.
Sounds in the Air
The humming noise of the air between the wings and the wires was constant as well as the noise of the electronic device, which displays the altitude and the thermals permanently used by Aldo to make the flight easier.
Out of the corner of our eyes, we could see trees, the plains and the city far away beneath us, everything in miniature. It was incredible to think that we had hesitated to get on this bird without fuselage.
We drew several circles; other paragliding enthusiasts crossed the sky and it was an awesome spectacle. The sky became colorful.
Eventually, we went in the direction of a landing area on the plains and Aldo made the “aircraft” land gently, as demanded by the flight. As we thanked him for making us forget about our fear, he told us that many people feel that way and ask to fly again almost immediately after the first flight.