Archive for the ‘Air Sports’ Category
For many, skydiving is the ultimate adrenaline rush. What can possibly beat jumping down an aircraft and hurtling back down to earth at a dizzying speed? It’s the kind of thing you have to try at least once in your life, if only for the bragging rights.
The problem, of course, is paying for it. How much does it cost to skydive? Plane tickets and insurance aside, a skydiving trip can run you back at least a few hundred dollars. There’s no set price range, but prices are affected by several factors. these include whether or not you’re skydiving alone (you may want to pay an instructor to fly with you), whether you’re bringing your own equipment or renting them, what else you’re doing on the trip, where you’re going, how competitive the company is, what other services you’re getting, and the time of the week (weekends are usually more expensive).
A tandem skydive, where you have an instructor dive with you, can cost from $120 to $250, including the equipment but excluding the instructor’s tip. Ten to 20 percent is usually acceptable. Solo skydiving costs $80 to $120 if you’re renting equipment, but can be as low as $25 if you have your own gear. For most of these you have to be certified; this will cost you $1,500 or so for a training package. An accelerated training package includes about 8 hours of instruction, plus on-the-ground work before embarking on about 10 actual jumps.
A cheaper alternative is indoor skydiving, where you enter a vertical wind tunnel and simulate a free fall, usually with an instructor beside you. There’s a small training session, about 20 minutes, to familiarize you with the basic positions. Each “jump” lasts about a minute and costs $20 to $40. Most companies impose weight limits and make you sign a waiver freeing them of all responsibility if you get injured during a jump.
If all this is too much for you, there are ways to cut costs, especially if you’re traveling to skydive. For instance, group jumps usually cost 10% to 20% less per person. Jumping during a weekday or on overcast days can also mean cheaper rates, not to mention smaller crowds. If you have a choice, pick a destination that’s not too touristy; the general rule is that the higher the cost of living, the higher the skydiving costs. Finally, if you plan on going back, book them right after landing—most companies offer discounts for follow-up skydives.
The hills and forests of Rio de Janeiro make it the perfect place to explore on air. Anyone visiting Rio should try their hand at hang gliding—coasting through the air hundreds of feet above the city, with nothing but the wind holding you up. Few things can recreate the feeling of being up there while the coastline shrinks below you, the wind in your hair as more and more of the Cidade Maravilhosa comes into view.
Hang gliders are unique in that they’re non-motorized, giving you the feeling that you’re flying on your own. Actually, you coast more than you fly: instead of propelling yourself up, you’re letting the wind carry you. You’d have to marvel at the physics that goes into flight. A lift here and you’re going one direction, a tug there and you’re headed the other way. Of course, you don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to hang-glide over Rio; you can tandem ride with experts who know flying like the back of their hands.
Taking off is often the trickiest part of hang gliding. Usually, the pilot waits for a good wind and runs down a slope to “ride” it. The craft is lifted by the fast airflow over the wings, and once in the air, the pilot follows wind directed upwards either by the heat (thermal lift) or by nearby hills or mountains (ridge lift). Thankfully, these winds are abundant in Rio, so there’s good hang gliding pretty much all year.
The best flights begin at the Pedra Bonita ramp in the Tijuca National Forest. The ramp provides a scenic takeoff point with plenty of wind for a powerful flight. From a dizzying 1,700 feet, you will glide over the village of São Conrado and the famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. The famous Christ statue (the Corcovado), the granite peaks of Pedra Bonita and Pedra da Gavea, and the deep blue waters of the Atlantic will be hard to miss. Flights last 15 to 20 minutes and end at the Praia do Pepino (Cucumber Beach), the perfect way to cap off your ride.
Hang gliding instructor Paulo Celani, arguably the best-known in Rio, says that the best time to hang-glide is between 9am and 2pm, when the winds are most reliable. You don’t have to wait for a clear, sunny day; sometimes, Celani says, cloudy days make for even better hang gliding as they come right after cold fronts.