Flashback to New Years Eve I was at a hostel in New Zealand with my sister. We had just finished climbing Mt. Ngauruhoe and had come back down the mountain to our hostel and I was struggling to stay awake. Midnight was not going to happen this year after that vigorous 10 mile hike, haha.
My sister was in the kitchen teaching children how to make sushi and I was sitting at a table in the living room while a guy was at a table next to me making fly tie’s for fly fishing out of an old battered brief case filled with twine, feathers, and other oddities.
He had newspaper spread out all over the table and was focused on his twine while I was sitting over at the table yawning. He looked over at me with a piteous look as I squinted my eyes at my computer screen, still trying to decide if I should have signed up for the Weta Cave tour ahead of time (Yes you should! There’s not many spots available) for our trip to Wellington.
Striking up a conversation we started talking about all the adventurous things there are to do in New Zealand. I told him we were heading from North to South and what fun things were there to do on the South Island? (the perks to not having a fully booked itinerary before you begin traveling).
He listed off the normal things and then at the end he said “gliding.” I cocked my head. What was gliding? He told me if I headed down towards Mt. Cook, a small town of Omarama I would be able to find signs to go up in a glide plane. hmmmm.. Light. Bulb.
Switching gears I brought up their website and took a look at gliding. Unfortunately gliding is a very expensive sport and later on when we hopped, skipped, and jumped, on a helicopter to go ice hiking, gliding would not be able to make our list of activities. It did however, make the never-ending list of things to do in my future. Moohaha.
Fast-forward one month from that conversation and I am now sitting in main control in the EOOW chair (Engineering Officer of the Watch) onboard our warship and we are at Sea and Anchor transiting in or out of the harbor, (I don’t really remember whether it was in or out?).
The Chief Engineer is sitting right beside me. We are sharing stories, which is always one of my favorite things to do onboard the ship. I started telling him a story about New Zealand and it ended with me telling him about my missed gliding opportunity and what I needed to do to rectify that.
He laughed and said I was always on to the next adventure, but in my entire time onboard the ship with him, he never ceased to amaze me with his knowledge. Having been in the Navy for 20 years he has traveled and lived in multiple countries and he always strives to make friends with the locals, so he has 100s of stories to share. The best part is when I, with my little to no experience about the world, come up with ideas about things to do, he always has a good story to set me in the right direction.
Immediately he looked at me and smiled. Yes! He knows something about gliding(^-^). Then he tells me about his time in Pearl Harbor and how in Hawaii they have some of the best gliding one could ever wish to do and it’s not even that expensive.
He said he knew a guy in the Navy who used to go gliding all the time and sometimes even stay up in the air for a couple of hours. Yes, but between Hawaii and New Zealand when was the next time I would end up in either?
Fast-Forward 2 months and I’m in Hawaii just finishing up my 1 week class that I had while I was there. After a little bit of research I learned that on the island of Oahu there is a gliding place on the North Shore. In relation to the Honolulu HNL international Airport that’s only about 1.5 hours away and most of it is on a 2 lane highway so with no traffic you can get there even faster, a very nice drive.
The place is called Soaring Oahu, and they give a military discount so if you are military, you should get over there stat. I decided to do the 30 minute Aerobatic gliding which normally cost $215, but with military discount it was $190.
On the morning I decided to glide I hadn’t even called them to make an appointment and when I did it went straight to voicemail so I just hunkered down in bed and decided if it didn’t work out, well then maybe some other time. They called me back within a half hour and I was booked to go within 2 hours.
So much for spending the day buried under the covers (I know, I know it is Hawaii, but all the traveling was really starting to wear me out!). I dressed quickly and then set off to get there on time, but as I was driving my rental car over there I saw that it was getting cloudier and cloudier by the minute.
When I arrived, they told me that the winds were great and they would send me up so I could go in the aerobatic plane and see what happened. If it was too cloudy then we would just fly around but if the pilot was feeling confident we might even get a few flips.
With a thumbs up and smile I was strapping into a parachute and moments later was getting ready to be towed up in the glide plane by a small fixed wing plane.
It was hard to believe that i would be getting into an airplane with wings but no motor to go flying in the sky, how crazy that sounded, but it was very exciting. As soon as we got into the sky the pilot told me he would do a few tricks and a few turned into like 7 loop de loo’s in a row, no exaggeration. I guess the weather was great after all. He told me that these winds were the best we could hope for and he would send us soaring across the mountains lickety split. I just turned on the go pro and sat back for the ride.
Landing was surprisingly light and easy and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I didn’t get a little queasy before touchdown from all of the loop de loo’s. I would have kept going had it not been for the need to vomit and nausea that took over my body. Same feelings as sea sickness, nothing I’m not already accustomed to. Ha!
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