Recently married, I was seeking out  new experiences to celebrate the next chapter in our lives. After a quick search for tours in Innsbruck, I found tandem paragliding. Running off a mountain seems like a perfectly normal way to celebrate this special occasion. Right? The experience was a combination of chill sightseeing and a few minutes of a roller coaster ride.

Paragliders can often be seen dancing and swinging in the sky near Innsbruck throughout the year. I never looked up and thought, “I’d like to do that.” Anything that involves flying, gliding, climbing and leaping from heights is not my thing. I prefer activities at sea level or below. Was I scared? Yes.

I’ve overlooked so many tours in Innsbruck because there is simply too much to do – and that little thing called “comfort zone”. Most people come for the slopes in Winter and trails in Summer, but there’s so much more. This visit really opened my eyes as to how much I’m yet to experience for myself.

Paragliding near Innsbruck

Paragliding is the closest humans can come to experiencing the sensation of flying like a bird. It’s a competitive and recreational sport that harnesses the wind and allows pilots to maneuver in every direction, even up. Suspension lines connect the harness and wing. Sitting in a harness feels like sitting in a kid’s booster chair at a restaurant. Take off is propelled by a few steps and you’re in the air before you know it.

Paragliding Innsbruck Tirol

Getting ready to fly with Tom and Thomas from Fly-me.at

My First Paragliding Experience at Schlick 2000

I contacted the Fly-Me Tandem Paragliding team via facebook, and within minutes confirmed a date for our flight. After the chat, my heart sped up and my palms began to sweat. A part of me didn’t expect the response and booking to be so immediate. I hadn’t even consulted with my wife yet. I was equally nervous about having booked the flight and telling her that I booked it without her knowing. When I finally told her, she exploded with excitement. Typical Innsbrucker. Her response was the exact opposite of what I felt after making the reservation.

Arriving at the launch point is a breeze from Innsbruck. A quick ride up the cable car and you’re almost ready to fly. Tom and Thomas prepared the gliders, checked the lines and double checked the equipment. After the equipment was ready, they took a few minutes to guide us through the experience and it was enough to fade my worries away. They were very reassuring and informative, immediately putting me at ease. Tom clipped me into the harness and told me to start running at the count of three. “Three, two, one” – and we were in the air after five paces.

I could try to put the experience into words, but that’s impossible. Amazing, thrilling, exciting are all words that come up short when trying to retell the experience.

Just watch!

Video: Tandem paraglide flight from Schlick 2000

Be aware if you’re watching with kids my language might get a bit ‘excited’ at times!

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Tips for your Paragliding Trip

In case that inspires you to give paragliding a go yourself, here are a few practical tips for you.

Warm clothing is the only thing you need to worry about before your flight. Even in warm weather, it gets a bit chilly as you fly. I recommend wearing gloves, shades, ski clothes and sturdy shoes with ankle support.

The pilots also bring a camera and take photos and videos while flying, so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own. The only thing that really worried me while flying was dropping my camera or phone!

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