Paragliding in Interlaken, Switzerland with The Adventure Kids aka Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta at Twin Paragliding is the ultimate Luxury Experience.
Did you ever dream of flying, other than not comfortably seated in first class or in your own private Lear jet, with nothing under your feet except the blue skies? What we are writing about is paragliding - the ultimate luxury flying experience. Imagine flying without having to be dependent on airline travel schedules, long check-in lines, and practically disrobing to pass through airport security. The only thing that paragliders are dependent on is the wind!
The first time that we stayed at the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa in Interlaken, Switzerland, we watched a sky filled with paragliders with sails in a rainbow of colors landing in the park across from the hotel, and thought, "that will be us on our next visit."
We returned to the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa in Interlaken in October 2006, and once again, the sky was dotted with paragliders. Hearts racing with excitement, we rushed to Twin Paragliding to book our tandem flights; little did we know at the time that a new addiction would soon take hold.
The moment had finally arrived; we would "Discover Why Birds Sing!" according to the Twin Paragliding slogan, although we immediately thought of the song by Steve Miller "Fly like an Eagle." Twin Paragliding offers six different flying adventures: The Classic (500m/1700 ft) Beatenberg - Interlaken, The Sensational (800m/2600) Beatenberg - Interlaken, The Scenic (800m/2600 ft) Müren - Lauterbrunnen, The Romantic (1300 m/4290 ft) Schynige Platte - Interlaken, The Panoramic (1400 m/4260 ft) Niederhorn - Interlaken, and The Great (2000 m/6600 ft) Schilthorn - Stechelberg. We selected The Sensational for our initial foray into paragliding.
Paragliding is very much like skydiving, except that instead of jumping out of a plane, you run off a mountain. Okay, we are sure that our readers are now wondering if the "Adventure Kids" have lost their minds this time around. Rest assured, before we partake of any adventure with a possible risk, we thoroughly research the background of the adventure company. Peter T. "Pietschly" Bühler, has owned Twin Paragliding for 10 years, has been paragliding for 20 years, and throughout the years his clients have ranged in age from 3 to 93, and he has taken blind and paralyzed clients paragliding. The company's pilots are trained and fully licensed by the Swiss Paragliding Association so we felt secure in the company's level of experience.
The first preparation step for paragliding was finding a pair of sturdy laced boots from the wide selection of boots provided by Twin Paragliding. Boots secured, we rode in the company van to the nearby town of Beatenberg with our tandem pilots. You did not think that we would solo on our first flight did you? It was decided that Debra would fly with Pietschly, who Nicole Nussbaum, the other pilot, described as "the heartbreaker." Edward would go with Nicole, an ex-paragliding champion with 17 years experience, who was #1 on the Swiss Paragliding Team for 6 years, finished in second place twice in the world paragliding competitions behind France and Denmark, and is a "heartbreaker" herself.
Comfortable with their backgrounds and the fact that Nicole was so relaxed that she drank a cup of coffee in the van on the way to Beatenburg, we relaxed and thought about our moment to fly.
Pietschly and Nicole Checking Lines
We arrived at the top of Beatenberg, and it was showtime as Nicole and Pietschly carried our paragliders in 60-pound backpacks to the grassy slope where we would prepare the paragliders. We of course, were completely unencumbered except for our cameras to record every precious minute of flying. We assisted Nicole and Pietschly set up the paragliders, and could not help but think about Leonardo DaVinci and his flying machine. Imagine what Da Vinci would have thought about people running off a mountain to fly; he probably would have loved it!
Preparing the Paraglider
Helmets on, paragliders prepared, Nicole and Edward took off first, running down the grassy slope of the mountain until the air caught the sail of the paraglider, pulled them slightly back and up, and then suddenly they were flying!
Ready to Run off the Mountain
Debra and Pietschly followed suit, running until the updraft caught the sail and they, too, were airborne! When we realized that we were actually flying, it was an incredible high. We cannot even begin to explain the incredible sensation that we felt having the sheer freedom of flying in a paraglider. Imagine the wind gently caressing your face, and drifting along on the air currents like a bird or a balloon that a child had lost! Having 360° aerial vistas and being able to steer the paraglider to where you want to travel is a wonderfully empowering feeling.
Floating What a View!
Even without the breathtaking views of the Alpine mountains, Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, paragliding would be a fabulous adventure, but combined with the spectacular mountain views, it was a very memorable and exhilarating experience, as we drifted along on the wind.
When Nicole felt Edward was comfortable, she turned the controls over to him so that he could experience what it is like to control his flight. Pietschly had other ideas for Debra, as he maneuvered the paraglider into various acrobatic tricks, loop-de-loop and upside down, what a topsy-turvy world it was, and Debra enjoyed every minute!
Our cameras, as well as Nicole's and Pietschly's, whirled continuously during our aerial adventure in an effort to capture the essence of "why birds sing". Paragliding with Twin Paragliding was truly a luxury experience of being able to experience the unabashed rush of freedom of flight as we drifted over Interlaken. As we approached our landing spot in the bucolic green where cows grazed directly across from the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa, we mischievously wondered if it would be possible to land on the terrace of our suite; well, perhaps next time. Feet back on the ground, our first thoughts were, "When can we go back up again?" Before you consider paragliding, please be forewarned, this sport is highly addictive!
What a Ride - All Thumbs Up!
Planning our next Paragliding Adventure
For more information on Twin Paragliding, please visit their website www.TwinParagliding.com.
C/O Peter T. Bühler
Telephone: +41 79 622 51 00
Fax: +41 33 822 28 88
Toll Free: +41 800 359 8946 / 0800 (Fly Twin)
Read other articles on Switzerland in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, Spas, Liquor Cabinet, Wine Cellar, and Adventures sections.
For information on Switzerland, please visit: www.MySwitzerland.com. For information on Lucerne: www.Luzern.org. For information on Interlaken: www.InterlakenTourism.ch. For information on Bern: www.BernInfo.com. For information on Zurich: www.Zuerich.com. For information on Swiss International Air Lines: www.swiss.com. For information on Swiss Pass: www.SwissTravelSystem.ch.
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