Ben Franklin may have invented kites, lightning, and keys all in one night, but he still failed to satisfy his two biggest desires: mastering aviation and slamming down a Super Gargantua Burrito in one heroic, sloppy sitting. One up Ol' Ben with today's Groupon: for $49, you get a beginner hang-gliding lesson at Blue Sky Hang Gliding in Manquin (a $99 value). Class participants must be at least 13 years old and weigh between 100 and 260 pounds.
The beginner lesson at Blue Sky Hang Gliding provides curious aviators with the fundamentals of hang gliding over the course of approximately three hours. Before students take to the friendly skies, Blue Sky's experienced instructors comprehensively explain the proper use of the equipment and the various tips and tricks for sailing safely and confidently. Following the well-grounded prep time, guests take their first flight down a shallow hill, gliding about five feet above the soft, forgiving grass behind a trusty towing vehicle. Although the flight may not break the sound barrier or tropospheric divide, beginning gliders will still soar farther than the Wright Brothers did on their first flight attempts, a feat that could easily instigate a further pursuit of the sport. For all gliders, Blue Sky recommends bringing running shoes and long pants, as well as aeronautically appropriate snacks and drinks, such as airplane peanuts or helicopter pastrami.
Blue Sky Virginia Hang Gliding
Steve Wendt brings nearly 40 years of experience soaring the skies to his lessons at Blue Sky Virginia Hang Gliding's flight park, where he instructs gliders of all experience levels in launch methods ranging from training-hill foot launches to towing. Through personalized instruction in classes certified by the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, he hones flyers’ skills in solo and tandem hang-gliding and in piloting trikes and paragliders against elite racing pigeons. Using aero-towing, park staff members can tow pilots to heights of more than 2,000 feet, or get them airborne with platform and scooter towing.
Staff also outfit certified pilots and enthusiasts with a fleet of gliders from brands such as Aeros, Icaro 2000, Moyes, and North Wing, each made from aircraft-grade aluminum and Dacron sailcloth. In the event of regular wear and tear or run-ins with jealous paper airplanes, they can also sew sails, repair harnesses, and bend frames back into shape in a repair facility.