Paragliding above picturesque Lake Trichonida, near the town of Agrinio, western Greece as the sun began to set. Taking to the skies, with a flimsy fabric ‘wing’ above and my personal pilot it became easy to understand why since the beginning of time humankind has dreamed of flying.
In the modern era of commercialised passenger flights, most people have experienced flying in a large aluminium tube, and convenient as this seems, it is a far cry from the true freedom of flight.
Observing birds, the total masters of the skies, our species has attempted to mimic the effortless manner in which they soar, swoop and glide. Parapenting, or paragliding is possibly the closest we can ever hope to emulate the freedom which birds possess. High, above clouds, above mountains, riding the same thermals which many birds use to remain airborne with minimal effort.
Take off had been slightly hit and miss, my pilot Spyros of NoBorders Paragliding had been concerned the wind wasn’t sufficiently strong enough to get the required lift. However, as it wasn’t certain that the weather would be any more favourable, or that I’d be available later in the week we decided to give it a go.
The picture below was the view from our ‘runway‘ high above Lake Trichonida, far in the distance, below the even more distant hills.
This meant running like a four legged Usain Bolt while wearing a strait jacket like harness and dragging a silk sail designed to catch wind behind us. All the while hoping it would actually catch enough so that we’d soon be running in space.
At the same time, I was attempting to grab a few pics during the crazy take off; who said I can’t multi-task?
There was the added twist that Spyros might suddenly shout ‘abort’ at any time, bringing our attempt to fly like a bird to an abrupt end. Fortunately, we were soon catching a breeze and riding the air currents high in the skies of Greece, the earth falling quickly away, until it was far below our feet.
A light wind whistled softly around my ears, blew gently in my face and swirled around my feet. I’d not been drinking Redbull, but Agrinio (and Spyros) had given me wings….. if only for a short while.
It turned out to be a relatively short flight, without the gift of thermals to extend our moment of freedom. Spyros did manage to fit in a few acrobatic twists and turns, which he described as “rocking and rolling“, great fun, with stunning views.
My attempt at videoing the whole event was less Steven Spielberg, more Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer; a disaster movie of less than epic proportions! My multi-tasking skills painfully exposed, so skipped the Sharknado class video, sorry.
All too soon we were firmly grounded again, managing to retain some dignity while landing, which was basically the same as take off in reverse.
Waiting for a ride back to Marpessa Hotel there was time to sit on the shores of the beautifully calm Lake Trichonida and reflect on my moment of feeling as free as a bird. The still water seemed to mirror my inner peace, which unfortunately would also be all too fleeting, but possible to revisit occasionally through memories and images.