Humans weren't designed to fly, but there are people who sure make it look easy.
Paragliding was invented in the 1980s. It essentially uses fabric, string, and a harness to help people soar into the skies.
"Paragliding is the closest you can come to flying like a bird of prey; a hawk or an eagle," paragliding instructor Rick Sharp said.
Once you're up you use your hands to control your turns.
"In the beginning it feels really strange," said Kara Pool of Middlebury. "It's not something you normally do. The only thing I can say is it's soft and you just soar."
That said-- it's a process easier said than done.
"I've had a lot of falls, a lot of falls," Pool said.
"We've had probably 70 or 80 tree landings and no one's gotten hurt," Sharp said.
Sharp has been teaching people to paraglide for the past 18 years. The 58-year-old retired attorney knows the dangers of the sport firsthand. He was seriously hurt in a bad crash in Mexico 15 years ago, but maintains that paragliding is safer than riding in a car.
Beginners at Cobble Hill never fly when the winds are stronger than 12 mph. And first-time flyers always wear a walkie-talkie, which means there's a voice in your ear to coach you from start to finish.
I had a positive attitude going into my first flight. But being positive doesn't necessarily translate into success. I have no idea what I did wrong, but it wasn't pretty.
"There's still hope for him," Sharp said. "We haven't killed him yet."
But as it is with most sports, practice makes perfect. After a handful of crashes and burns, I finally got the hang of it. And if I can do it, anyone can.
"I don't think physically it's that challenging. It's more finesse and being relaxed, and just going into it," said Scott Simpson of Jericho.
"Once I had my first flight from the top I knew I was going to be doing this forever," Pool said.
It's a high-flying addiction that's hard to overcome... people transformed into birds through the power of flight.
Rick Sharp has taught 650 people to fly. Only four people have been hurt and all were minor injuries. Cobble Hill is one of only a few places in Vermont where you can learn to paraglide. One lesson costs $150.
Monday, May 20 2013 4:52 AM EDT2013-05-20 08:52:37 GMT
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