From May until winter, the USHPA-certified instructors of Hang Glide Chicago spend their weekends accompanying passengers on tandem hang-gliding flights. Flight school sessions acclimate beginners to the sport before they board gliders, which are then towed into the air by a small plane. As flyers are released for their 2,500-foot free flight, they can steer their glider or let instructors guide the way as they take in the surrounding vistas. Students are welcome to bring their own cameras (wrist straps are recommended) or arrange to have their flight recorded by Hang Glide’s HD-panoramic video equipment or their instructor’s photographic memory. Flights take place from sunrise to sunset, and patrons can extend their experience by taking advantage of facilities that include camping grounds, bathrooms with showers, and a lake for kayaking or catch-and-release fishing.
Chicago Paragliding’s instructor-adventurers catch wind from Illinois to Indiana and soar above tawny fields of grain on the Midwest’s great updrafts. They introduce students to multiple windblown sports, from paragliding to kite surfing. After familiarizing beginners with the skills needed to control each craft, they perform assisted and tandem flights to acclimate their charges to faster speeds, greater altitudes, and clouds shaped like scarier and scarier dogs. The team, with certifications from groups including the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, is also prepared to help more advanced adventurers perfect their skills.