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Friday, 01 July 2011

Into the Wind – Engine-Free Flying in Southern California

Written by Lesley Boutilier
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The entire southern coast offers numerous ways to fly into the wind.

Amelia Earhart once said, “Adventure is worthwhile in its self.” This belief, along with our shared attitudes about altitude, encouraged me to try the engine-free flight options in southern California. Whether you crave the thrill of bungee jumping, prefer the extreme, heart-racing pleasure of sky-diving or a serene paragliding flight, southern California is home to a variety of air sports set above the state’s beautiful, yet rugged terrain. Come along with me on my engine-free journey and see which activity brings you to new heights. See you in the skies.

The Bridge to Nowhere,, in Angeles National Forest provided a 120-foot platform, or what appears to be a toothpick as I stepped over the ledge to what could possibly be my final moments, for an unforgettable bungee jumping experience.

Bungee 1Deep in the San Gabriel Canyon, guests gathered at 7:30 am for a 5 mile hike over a rocky, rough trail that led to the bridge. The trail crossed a creek 6 times in up to three feet of water. This part of the journey alone was not for the faint at heart. By the time I reached the bridge, I was tired and wet but my adrenaline kicked things up a notch; I was keenly aware of the Goliath stone bridge that rose up from the jagged rocks and rushing water below. 

While standing on the edge of the bridge, steep canyon walls were rising around me. A short lesson was given on the bungee system and safety and before I knew it, I was up and about to go down. I climbed over the ledge; my sweaty hands gripped the rail, my throat was dry and my heart seemed to be pumping in my ears. Looking down at the raging water ten stories below, I heard the encouragement of the instructor as he began the countdown, “5-4-3-2-1-BUNGEE!”

Bungee 2I let go of the rail and star-fish leapt off of the tiny platform to a free fall. I found myself plummeting through the wind; the water and rocks below were getting closer and closer. Just when I thought I was getting too close to my impending doom, I felt the bungee cord begin to slow me down, but the journey was not quite over yet; A few feet shy of the water, I found myself being flung straight up toward the bridge and plummeting again and again and again with a series of bounces. With each bounce, a scream of excitement escaped my throat.

Once I finished bouncing, I was elated with happiness and pumping with adrenaline. Overcoming the initial, internal fear that numbs your body makes you feel like you can do anything. The sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. I wanted that indescribable, free-falling feeling to last forever!

If river crossing, rugged terrain and bungee cords are not your thing, my next journey may be your “flight of fancy”. My incurable thirst for adrenaline and flight was fed by a 13,000 foot skydiving adventure with Skydive San Diego. Over 2 miles above southern California  is a visual vantage point that few people ever experience so clearly. With nothing obstructing the view, the wind rushing in my face and free falling through the air at 120 mph, senses are heightened to a level of euphoria.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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