I believe that we can fly on our own as easily and safely as we ride bicycles. I believe that it is our birthright as animals with huge brains and flexible minds to be able to transform ourselves into flying beings. I believe this because I have done it myself, and now I can fly for hundreds of miles using nothing more than the power that is in the air all around me.
When I fly, I fly stretched out like Superman, but with a pair of carbon and sailcloth wings instead of a cape attached to my back. And through my wings I feel the movements of the air just as though these wings are a part of my body.
When I’m flying it doesn’t feel as though I’m controlling an aircraft. I’m just moving my body around and flying. I’m not seated in a cockpit looking out a window – instead, the whole world is all around me. Wherever I look, I see the earth laid out below and the clouds stretched out above.
Starting early in the morning, I have been able to float in the lightest rising air produced by cool Gulf of Mexico winds that push across the warm South Texas flatlands covered in mesquite and prickly pear. I have climbed and glided over corn and soybean fields in Kansas and Iowa, forests in the Pacific Northwest, swamps in Florida, the Columbia River in Eastern Washington, deserts in Utah and Colorado, valleys in the New Hampshire and Central California, Monarch butterfly refuges in Mexico, and rugged mountains on three continents. I have flown into the Rockies, launched from the Cascades and the Wasatch, and over vast snowfields high in the Alps as I watched broad luxuriant valleys turn into thin green lines far below me.
I have flown for over four hundred straight line miles over Texas in one day and stayed in the air for over ten hours, feeling completely comfortable. I have raced just above cliffs south of Sydney, Australia at over 100 mph. I have stayed up at less than 800 feet above the ground, going neither up nor down as I drifted over fields, housing developments, golf courses, sewage treatment plants, high tension power lines, wood lots, hedgerows, school yards, and vacant lots – waiting for the air to start rising faster while all the time I kept track of any possible landing areas in case it ceased rising at all.
For me flying is a personal and immediate sensation. It’s like walking, running, or bicycling. And like those activities, I believe flying to be a completely normal skill accessible to all of us.
For the past twenty two years I have flying hang glidiers with my many friends around the world, and hope to continue doing so for at least another twenty two years.
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