Lookout Mountain Flight Park was our destination this week. An introductory hang gliding course and an afternoon tandem flight was the plan for 3 in our group. When one person dropped out, I jumped at the chance to tag along to see how it's done.
Trenton, GA, a short drive from Chattanooga, TN, is the location of the largest hang gliding school in the country. We arrived atop the mountain early in the morning so that the students could register. Then it was back down the mountain to the bucolic valley below to begin training. Upon arrival at the "bunny hills," they suited up in pads, harnesses and helmets and were transported out to a 65 ft. gently sloping hill for 4 or 5 practice runs.
After a some instruction, each student was able to surf down the slope about 5 feet off the ground. Some even got a little higher. While they were learning the mechanics, I got some info from a retiree from Canada. She and her husband were there for about 3 weeks. In that time, her husband's goal was to go through the entire course, which includes exhaustive reading and tests on air currents, weather, etc., multiple successful mini flights and landings on both the 65 ft. and the 120 ft. bunny hills and to end his stay there with at least 10 solo flights from atop the mountain.
My friends returned from their training session hot, wringing with sweat and tired, but with big smiles on their faces. After showers and a leisurely lunch, they felt refreshed and ready for the afternoon session....a tandem flight with a certified instructor. The hang glider was towed 2000 ft. into the sky and released, about 500 ft higher than the mountain. Each flight lasted about 10-12 minutes.
As my friend Nancy's glider swooped down to land, we could all hear her yell.....WOOOOOHOOOOO!
You can see hang gliders taking off from the concrete launch pad on the side of the mountain any weekend when the weather is right. If you are in the area, be sure to check out Lookout Mountain Flight School. You can't miss it. Drive south along the crest and there it is.