Interlaken, Flying Without Wings

A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Part II Chapter IV

Interlaken, Flying Without Wings

Country: Switzerland
Currency: Swiss Franc
Travel Date: 6/9/2008 – 7/9/2008

There was only one pure goal for Interlaken – to fly. Whilst there are many ways to fly, including those death-defying ones, one way certainly outshined the others. It was the one that I have always longed for when I was a kid. It was also the one that could only be done in limited parts of the world – hang-gliding.

Okay, I have to admit that I wasn’t the pilot who controlled the flight and I didn’t see myself doing it either for my first flight and crash myself to a cliff and then smashing my body into powder before blown away by the Alps wind, or just fall down right to the ground breaking my body into pieces similar to what happen when a watermelon hit the ground from Empire State Building high.

So what did I do? Simple, tagged along someone that can guarantee my life, even though singing my own death warrant was still compulsory. But I was willing to do it for the first time in my life and it was not because I got knackered with living. It was purely the lust for the sudden surge in adrenaline that sealed the deal.

However, as usual, own fear wasn’t the only factor that could possibly bar me from the participation of hang-gliding. There was still the weather.

Finding a pilot that operates in late summer wasn’t easy. Finding a pilot that operates in late summer and not charging you a fortune was even harder. Finding a pilot that operates in late summer, not charging astronomically, and a blessed good weather in a late summer Switzerland – frustratingly challenging.

My session was the only session of the pilot that day, a day when the sun hid in the blanket of clouds, real dark heavily charged clouds that were eagerly decomposing themselves.

The initial session time was 10 in the morning and it was drizzling before the first delay to midday.

Midday and the sun was still hiding, or perhaps finding a protective shelter from the now pouring rain. My dream to fly tumbled. But both the pilot and I were hopeful. He of course wasn’t trying to dazzle me with his kindness to fulfill my desire but to only worry whether my money would eventually switch home to his wallet.

It was further delayed to 3p.m.

That was the bottom line I drew. I had a train to catch later that day. I can’t afford endless waiting and spend another night living in the freezing cold attic of a hostel that was offered for free to me.

The time reached and unfortunately the weather didn’t seem to be promising. But the ebullience of the pilot to earn my money had put us into a literally no turning back situation – to risk it!

Boarded on a van, ascending the winding mountain path, still cautious about the weather outside, my heart started pumping furiously. It was however to both our surprise at the “death point” – the no-more-land-beyond-this point, or simply the departure point – that the weather seemed to have sided us eventually.

After a quick assembly of the flight, a speedier-than-preparing-instant-noodles take off lesson, and the endless reminders of not murdering the pilot with my arms while flying due to devastating fear or intense enjoyment, I was there, literally hanging my life on thread.

“Remember, 1-2-run-
run-run-run! Run the shit out of your ass!” shouted the pilot. Eew! That was down right disgusting. But I decided to hold on to the crap talk for at least the coming minute. Clinching my fists tightly at the appropriate places, we did the 1-2-run, passing the death point, feeling a sudden weightless drop for a second before a tensed pulling force from the chord, and,

“I am flying!” I screamed.

It was the first time in my life, flying in the air without mechanical engine. The opportunity to see the world with my own eyes while smoothly sailing in the air like an eagle was sensational. I didn’t murder my pilot with my arms, but to be honest, I wanted to release his safety chord so much during the flight so that I can gain total control of the flight. Bad idea I know and I am glad I didn’t do that, or otherwise I would have already been six feet under.