Learning to Fly

hang-glider
Below is a Wrigley’s TV commercial from the 80s which started my lifelong dream to hang-glide and a genuine excuse to get educated.  Whenever I saw this commercial as a child, my jaw was to the floor.  It was something I had always wanted to do.
Thanks to youtube, I can trace it all back.

I was never really college material, I took the SAT’s once and bombed on them. Luckily, there was a trend during that time to ignore the SAT scores because there was some evidence that it discriminated against some people who could perform well at school.  Because of that short lived trend, I had a window of opportunity and I got into the only two colleges I applied to. I guess the trend was correct, because I graduated with a 3.54 cumulative average. My grades soared, (probably due to meditation) and I was able to literally soar through the air.

I always tell my friends that I chose my university based on the fact that there was a hang-gliding club there. I had a choice of University of Connecticut (UCONN) and Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). The first one was more famous than the other, but CCSU had a hang-gliding club and that was the deciding factor of where I would attend.  It was my first year at that school where I had taken a World Religions class.  It was there where I identified myself as a Buddhist.  It just seemed so natural to follow a religion I was already following.  I went through my whole college career without a drop of alcohol, not to mention anything else.   It was also at CCSU where I met an old high-school friend who transfered from UC Berkley.  it was him who taught me how to meditate.  Did I learn anything else?

Yes, of course!  I joined the club! The club paid for half of the costs with the activity fees, plus the club owned gliders we could use too. In retrospect, it was certainly the most potentially dangerous activity I had ever done. I am glad I got through it without a scratch and so is my mother!

I was glad to see that Morningside Flight Park, in Claremount, New Hampshire was still in business. That was where our club would go on the weekends. No trees to crash into was very important. The glider you see in this video is going off of the 150 foot vertical drop. It is the equivalent of the hang-glider “bunny hill.”

While it would be nice to start jumping off of cliffs the very first day, you can’t really realistically do that and you need to take it slowly if you want to live long. After 10 bullseye landings, you can take an examination for your the Hang 1 Certification. I made it up to that level, but never went further. Hang 2 can do the more interesting stuff, but I am sure my mother was happy that I did not go that far!

The video below is from someone stranger on youtube who posted his flights from Morningside Flight Park.  That is the same hill I flew from. You only need to see a few take offs and landings from this video to get the point.. The rest are all the same.

Article by Bhikkhu Subhuti

Bhikkhu Subhuti is an American Buddhist Monk with roots in both Sri Lanka and Myanmar Forest Traditions. He currently resides in Myanmar but his heart sometimes floats back to Kauai, HI where he spent six months in 2015.

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