Paragliding over the Austrian Alps

Paragliding over the Austrian Alps

My first time paragliding took place in the intensely stunning and clean city of Salzburg, Austria. It is one of my favourite cities in Europe and the city took my breath away instantly. I was vacationing during Easter break from university in England, with a friend who flew all the way from Singapore to join me.

Paragliding charmed me with the view of the Alps at sunset, while I was tied to a man and seated in a comfortable chair, gliding over the skies, after having just ran off a mountain like a dog.

We started off our run at the top of a mountain, with the view of the Bavarian Alps.

Paragliding over the Austrian Alps

Paragliding: A Four-Dimensional TV Experience
Melissa in the Austrian Alps

My friend was the first one to run off the mountain, in deep snow–and I mean deep! It came up to my mid-calves, and with ever step, I had to lift my whole leg up before setting it down and sinking another few centimetres before becoming stable. My shoes also became soaked in snow so my feet were completely numb from the cold.

So naturally, I failed at my run off.

Here’s what you have to do when paragliding: make sure everything is buckled, get prepped in a position while your tandem instructor is behind you watching the wind flag. Wind direction is paramount in paragliding, because it will determine if you are able to actually glide into the sky or just fall flat on your face with the parachute covering you as you try not to roll down to your death.

Think of it simply like flying a kite; without wind and without proper wind direction, the kite would not be able to take off.

I collapsed in the snow in my gear, trying not to face the reality that I could actually roll down the mountain if a mini avalanche were to break out.

I failed because of two things: poor wind direction and the fact that I could not run fast and hard enough to actually gain momentum to fly. I will be honest and admit that the latter was the main reason for my failure.

For starters, we waited for AGES after my friend flew off to get the proper wind. My poor instructor stared at the flag as if his life depended on it and every time it got close, it was off in a split second and he heaved a sigh. I was crouching in the snow, barely breathing, well aware that I was supposed to take off like a racehorse the split second he yelled GO, with a massive amount of weight on my back.

Paragliding over the Austrian Alps

paragliding in austria
The view over Salzburg

Why did I fail at running? The snow got the better of me and my skinny legs, and I just couldn’t push myself hard enough to run faster. I collapsed in the snow in my gear, trying not to face the reality that I could actually roll down the mountain if a mini avalanche were to break out; all this while my instructor was running around trying to scoop up the sinking parachute and yelling, “It’s okay! It’s okay!  Are you alright?”

I was just trying to breathe, gone past caring about my near frozen feet.

I’m sure this would be spectacularly funny if this were in a move, but believe me, I was so upset there and then that I wanted to burst into tears. So, did I get a second chance?

It was truly unforgettable. It may not be have the whole adrenaline pumping skydiving material, but at that moment, it was pure ecstasy for me and I was really happy to finally be in the air.

Thankfully, I did. The instructor eventually packed everything and said Come, let’s go. We proceeded to the other side of the mountain, which did not have any snow and was just covered in soil and grass. Why did we not come here earlier?

This time I was ready. I glided into the air like a dove and once I was safely in the arms of the wind, I hauled myself into my little butt seat and put as much effort into it as I could.

It was truly unforgettable. It may not be have the whole adrenaline pumping skydiving material, but at that moment, it was pure ecstasy for me and I was really happy to finally be in the air.

If you haven’t done paragliding before, I suggest you do. It could be a step toward skydiving, if you are terribly afraid of heights or if you are one of those people who dislikes feeling like their hearts are falling out of their bodies.

The overall experience felt like I was watching TV. From my seat. With the wind blowing in my face, while the scenery changed right in front of me.

I fell in love with Salzburg that day, and can’t stop thinking about it since.

 

Paragliding over the Austrian Alps

About Melissa Dorai

Melissa DoraiMelissa Dorai is a Singaporean who graduated from the UK. She discovered her passion for travel and adventure during her years abroad and now takes delight in sharing her experiences through her blog.

One thought on “Paragliding over the Austrian Alps

  1. Trudy
    January 5, 2015
    Reply

    Your entry is so passionate and convincing that I’m willing to take your word for it and give paragliding a go! All this despite my fear of heights 😉

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