Fri | Jun 24, 2022

Reporter’s notebook: Flying without wings

Published:Friday | May 20, 2022 | 12:06 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer

My excursion to Kingston’s Skyline Drive will go down as one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had.

Who would have guessed that paragliding in Kingston, of all places, would have easily overshadowed my childhood memories of flying in a plane and the few but memorable family beach holidays I had in Ocho Rios, St Ann?

But nothing has come close to it, in my opinion.

As I travelled from the heart of downtown Kingston, from The Gleaner on North Street up to Skyline Drive, meeting up with the Paradise Wings Jamaica team, the only local business that offers paragliding adventures in Jamaica, I was a rather calm and collected.

The cool, crisp air and just the right amount of sun that day created such a tranquil atmosphere, I completely forgot that we were ‘in town’ as opposed to St Elizabeth, where flights are also offered.

Possibly oblivious of what I had got myself into at first, as I witnessed the pilot, Ingo Hillmann, a German native, who went over the instructions of what to do during the tandem flight, despite appearing calm to those around me still, I became rather nervous as my time approached.

A tandem paragliding flight requires no prior expertise and provides the passenger the luxury of sitting back to relax and enjoy an impressive view, while the qualified paraglider pilots and does all of the work.

ANXIETY

Then came my time, as I was the second passenger of the day. Fastened into my harness and connected to my pilot and the parasail, all while standing at the slanted end of the cliff, got my knees buckling and palms pooling with perspiration.

The approximately three-minute wait for the right wind conditions to carry us off into the skies definitely did not do well with my sudden anxieties.

Nonetheless, I strapped on my bravery helmet and proceeded to wait for my instructions to run off.

My pilot, Ingo, exhibited a high degree of confidence that sought to ease my racing heart, and with his command, I surged into the skies running, but with no ground beneath my feet, as the wind pushed us high into the air.

I have never felt more alive, and free, as I did.

No mental bird could compare to such an experience.

The way the wind mustered up its lips and blew strong gusts of wind for us to sail, the bird’s-eye perspective I had of the Mona Reservoir, The Pegasus (Jamaica’s tallest building, standing at 17 storeys), and the overall cityscape across Kingston, from Papine to the sea, was a worthwhile experience.

And the Paradise Wings Jamaica team made sure I got to capture those moments to relive for a lifetime, as the flight packages include a camera to either capture video or a photograph.

If you are terrified of heights yet crave excitement and adventure, I recommend entrusting yourself in the professional and capable hands of the caring staff at Paradise Wings Jamaica.

Visit their website at http://www.paradise-wings-jamaica.com/ or follow them on Instagram at @jamaicaparadisewings; or email paradisewings@gmx.net.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com