CONTRIBUTED BY SHELL BURGER/VIDEO BY RYAN BURGER
When I put my name into the Discover Okinawa Paragliding Facebook contest run by the Schilling Community Center on Kadena Air Base, I never imagined I would actually win. When I found out I was, in fact, a winner, I was both terrified and excited. I had not read the “glider” part until after I won and had presumed it would be parasailing. Parasailing is when you are pulled by a boat over water. I have been parasailing before and enjoyed it. I was not sure what paragliding was until I googled it. The thought of not being over water scared me a little, but I decided to face my fear and go for it; this would be probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was I glad I did.
Since I could bring a guest I dragged my husband with me, and he dutifully put together this great video of our experience.
The paragliding happened just off of Toguchi Beach and was breathtaking. The actual in-air flight time was about 10-15 minutes for each of us. The rides are done tandem with an instructor behind you; the instructor operates the giant fan and parachute, so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
Both my husband and I carried camcorders with us to capture some of the flight. The paragliding company encourages you to bring something with you as long as it can be strapped to you, or a lanyard. My instructor also took photos of me and himself while we were in the air that he posted on their facebook page the next day.
I was a little worried about the take-off and landing, but they walk you through each step. For us, we took off from the actual beach and just had to run a few steps before the air lifted you up. A warning for those of you with motion sickness issues (like me): there was a part of my glide that got “turbulent” and I started to feel queasy, but I was fine once I landed. The landing, or just gliding down, was probably the scariest part of the ride. When you hear the instructor turn off the giant fan and you start to just coast down it is a little chilling if you have not gone through it before. The experience was well worth it.
Since the paragliding was a free trip arranged by the community center discover programs, we did not have to pay anything. However, I did check the actual company’s website and paragliding is normally 9,000 yen per person. If you are interested in paragliding, I encourage you to check out my husband’s video to see what to expect. You can also look into the company we used: BlueSky
Blue Sky Phone: 090-6864-3939
Email: [email protected]