In 2012, a hang-glider set the world record for distance while hovering above Texas soil for a thrilling 473 miles. Though newcomers won't be able to hit that range, they can still enjoy some of the same breathtaking sights with a discovery flight experience at Cowboy Up Hang Gliding. Cowboy Up Hang Gliding has been in business for over 10 years with 3,000 tandem flights. There, USHPA-certified instructors ride along and help guide guests as they glide through the air. Flights can reach up to three soaring heights, from 2,000 feet to a heady one mile above ground. Though memories of this experience are usually very strong, staff can also videotape the flight so guests can explain the thrill to friends and family or one day prove to their grandkids that they really did fly uphill to school every day. Take-offs and landings are on wheels so this low-impact activity involves no running or jumping and can be exhilarating for anyone, regardless of physical condition.
A triangular form soars across blue skies and swoops over Texas's sprawling terrain. But the flying figure isn't a bird or a frustrated geometry student's homework—it's one of Thermalriders’ gliders, which let novices master the art of flying under the guidance of U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association-certified instructors. During aerotow flights, instructors and students can then break free from gravity's tight grip as Dragonfly planes tow them to heights of up to 2,500 feet. Thermalriders' instructors also have the ability to capture each flight on video.
Jeff Hunt probably understood the trajectory of his career path in a way most people don't. With an aerospace engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin and experience working with Tracor Aerospace after college, he is very familiar with how things move forward. Though most aerospace engineers are focused on building spaceships and watering blooming stars, Hunt chose to focus on hang-gliders. Over the past 25 years, he has competed in cross-country hang-gliding competitions and become a USHPA-certified advanced tandem instructor. At Fly Texas and Fly Mexico, he shares his passion with students during half-day and daylong hang-gliding classes or shuttles more experienced gliders on flights.
Imagine piloting a personal plane through the sky?then the walls gently dissolve while you remain airborne, soaring along with nothing but a motor and the cool breeze on your face. That's pretty close to what it's like in one of Austin Paramotor's powered paragliders. The concept is simple: just a harness, a parachute wing, and a backpack-mounted motor with a propeller pushing the whole contraption through the air. But if it still seems complicated, Austin Paramotor's USPPA-rated certified trainers are ready to guide first-timers through the entire process, providing instruction on how to take-off and maneuver so that, in time, students can fly solo. What's more is that the center also offers tandem paramotor flights, during which an instructor will operate the flying machine so that passengers can concentrate on more important tasks, such as taking in the view or networking with birds.
Sportations connects amateur adrenaline jockeys to certified professional adventurers, drawing from a nationwide network of aeronauts and speed demons to introduce habitual pedestrians to the wonders of skydiving, ballooning, hang gliding, and stock-car racing. Thrill seekers can zipline across a forest canopy, hollering like Tarzan or taunting nearby birds until they agree to race. Helicopter tours ferry patrons skyward over landmarks and cityscapes, whereas paragliding adventures get up close and personal with blue skies and clouds. For most sports, Sportations accommodates groups of any size, from physics classes empirically proving gravity's existence to solo ballooning supervillains declaring dominion over all they see.