Explore Life Coaching, Patti Phillips

“Crazy Apes” Explore Hang Gliding

As soon as we arrived at Adventures at Altitude, we were greeted by our instructor and pilot, Barry, with a “Hello, Crazy Apes”. He continued with his take on the Happy Monkey Club name throughout our time with him. We were the “Playful Primates”, the “Outrageous Orangutans” and the “Gorgeous Gorillas” (o.k., I made that last one up!). Three Happy Monkeys had an amazing day hang gliding 4000 feet in the air, above the clouds.

Barry is owner and operator of Adventures at Altitude which offers a variety of “sky rides”. He has been flying for over 20 years and clearly loves his job. Just on the outskirts of Steinbach, about a 45 minute drive from Winnipeg, is this little culture of people who live for air adventures. There were a number of people taking part in skydiving on the same day. Some were doing it for the first time and a couple of old timers had been doing it for over 45 years! Throughout the summer, there were people staying in the dorm rooms in the hanger from as far away as Israel and Australia. Imagine travelling basically half way around the world to spend the summer skydiving in Manitoba. That says a lot about the reputation of Adventures at Altitude.

We started with an instructional video and then signed the waiver. Barry said at least three times that he wasn’t expecting it to happen, but there was a risk of death. Nice. We learned about how to steer the hang glider and watched some awesome and scary clips of the types of aerobatics that could be done in a hang glider. The motorized hang-glider we were to ride was described as a fine machine that could reach speeds of over 160 kms per hour. So with the prep done (we were pretty nervous by this time) we put on some warm clothes and mitts and got ready for our individual rides.

Donna was the first to venture into the air with Barry as her pilot. As we watched from the ground, the craft climbed quickly and was lost in the distance and above the clouds. The ride lasted about twenty minutes and we saw some pretty exciting manoeuvres. Donna arrived back with a huge smile and a rush of excitement. I was up next and climbed on bound. Barry and I did a sound check with our headsets to make sure we could communicate while up in the air. All was functioning well so we headed off down the runway and it was only a few moments before we were quickly flying. As we climbed, Barry pointed out some of the sites, including the Whiteshell off in the east and the Winnipeg skyline to the northwest. The most amazing part was when we arrived at the level of clouds and burst through to the top-side. I actually did touch the clouds! We did some slaloming in and around the clouds. Dove and climbed and it was incredible. Barry offered to let me take over the steering and it was fun to have control over the aircraft. Once we were up that high, the wings of the hang-glider were all we needed to stay up in the air so the motor was turned off and a calm set in. 4000 feet above the ground, floating around in the clouds with fabric wings, 100 kms per hour, and PEACE! It was now time for the fun.We did the roller coaster dive, which was basically flying directly towards the ground at maximum speed of 160, followed by the “spiral drop of death”. The twenty minute ride went by quickly but I must say it was long enough for me. My tendency to motion sickness only started setting in towards the end. Annie was last to get her flying in and patiently waited and anticipated the adventure. She was all smiles as she climbed on board and we’re sure her grin was even bigger upon her return.

The Crazy Apes were definitely Happy Monkeys at the end of this adventure. We hope that there will be an opportunity to do this next year with a larger group. Barry promises a great gourmet Baboon Barbeque.

This event was sponsored by Explore Life Coaching.

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