Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Flying Like A Bird Over Rio De Janeiro

Hang gliding has always been at the top of my adventure “to-do list.” When I discovered that hang gliding was a popular activity in Rio, I knew this beautiful city had to be the backdrop of my first flight.

If you know me, you know that I am really afraid of heights. Just standing on a balcony makes my whole body tingle. So the idea of running off a cliff with a Dorito-shaped kite strapped to my body was nerve-racking. As if that wasn’t enough, I decided to propose to Brandon after our flights (click here to read about the proposal and to watch the video).

Before we left Florida I covertly arranged for the guys at Rio Hang Gliding to help me with the proposal. I planned to have the proposal flight on the second day of our journey so that we could celebrate during the remainder of our 19-day trip. I had to be very sneaky! I had things hidden all over the house and my office so that he didn’t find anything that would give it away.

The Day Of The Flight

Naturally I didn’t sleep a wink the night before so the morning of the flight I walked around like a zombie trying to get ready. The guys at Rio Hang Gliding arranged for a driver to pick us up early in the morning and before we knew it, we were suited up and ready to fly. They are very conscious about safety and there’s some type of regulating organization (I think the local government) conducting safety/equipment demonstrations and sign-offs before you’re allowed to fly, so that made me feel a ton better.

Before you take off they have you practice running in tandem with your pilot. Once that’s done your pilot will go through some simple directions with you and then you walk together to the ramp. My pilot suggested that I look up and avoid looking down during the takeoff, advice I gladly followed. Once you’re ready to go the pilot counts two steps and then tells you to RUN! A few steps into the run your feet start to get light, you gently fall forward into the rig, and you’re flying!

The takeoff was the only stressful part of the flight, but only because I convinced myself that we were going to crash and die. In reality it was a really smooth process. Once you’re airborne you really don’t feel the heights anymore. It’s such a quiet and beautiful experience. Nothing like flying in an airplane. You really do feel like a bird – those lucky bastards!

When it’s time to land, the pilot helps you release your feet from the straps supporting them during flight and you circle around the landing zone. The pilot maneuvers the glider over the sand and when you’re just about to touch the ground he shouts “run.” And that’s it, you’re back on the ground.

Back on the ground the attention turned to the proposal and again my heart started to race. Click here to read about the proposal and to watch the video.

Choosing The Right Company

Since this is a really popular activity, there are several different companies offering flights. They all takeoff and land at the same location and go through the same safety checks. I recommend Rio Hang Gliding since we had such an amazing experience with them.

When you get to the meeting point a representative of the company, most likely your pilot, will be waiting for you. Rio Hang Gliding had a driver that helps shuttle the pilot and customers between the takeoff and landing points. Once you arrive at the takeoff point your pilot will help you suit-up while a few other crew members are setting up the glider. The whole process was very well orchestrated. When you land the crew takes the glider and breaks it down for the next flight. The only thing you really have to worry about during the whole process is having fun.