It sounds cliché -- jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. But there are many thrill seekers who are flying up -- and jumping out. Vermont Skydiving Adventures in West Addison specializes in the sport. Gina enjoys the views and thrills that come with a tandem skydiving adventure.
Skim through the skies over the Green Mountain State in a newly restored 1959 American Champion, two-seater airplane with veteran pilot and photographer Shirley Chevalier to learn what prompted her to take up flying at age 40, and what’s kept her climbing into the cockpit for more than 20 years.
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There are over 300,000 active skydivers in the United States. Stepping into the doorway of a plane at 13,500 feet and leaping for an adrenaline-filled free fall is a feeling like no other. For those interested in trying this sport, a tandem ride where you are strapped together with a certified instructor is an easy way to see what skydiving is all about. And just about anyone can drive in off the street and try it. We visited Vermont Skydiving Adventures in Addison and went up in the plane to watch first-timers take exhilarating tandem rides.
Humans have thought about flying under their own power since they first looked up at the sky. Hang gliding is a way to fulfill that fantasy. For many, the image of hang gliding is running off a small hill and staying up for a few seconds. With the proper training, hang glider pilots can launch off the side of a mountain and stay aloft for hours at a time, thousands of feet up in the air. Host Marianne Eaton takes a lesson at the Morningside Flight Park in Charlestown, New Hampshire and then joins a pilot for a tandem ride at 2500 feet.
From the thrill of liftoff to the traditional champagne toast upon landing, hot air ballooning has lost none of its magic for both first timers and seasoned pilots. Vermont is host to the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival in July. Here over 20 pilots from around the country come together for a weekend of sunrise and sunset launches, filling the skies over Stowe with a dazzling array of colors. Host Marianne Eaton steps into the gondola of aeronaut Chuck Baraw at the festival to rise above it all.
A flight in a glider is unlike any other airplane experience. No engine. No noise. Just the sound of the wind and your own thoughts. Gliders fly on rising pockets of warm air called "thermals." These are the same thermals hawks use to soar to great heights. Gliders can climb thousands of feet and, under the right conditions, travel great distances. Vermont provides a number of ideal locations for soaring. One of them is Vermont's Mad River Valley, home to the Sugarbush Soaring Association. Located at the Warren Sugarbush Airport, the Association is made up of about 150 members who come from all over New England to fly glider planes. The Association gives glider rides to those interested in possibly learning the sport. It also sponsors a summer youth camp for two weeks, giving kids between the ages of 13 and 17 a chance to learn to soar. The learning curve for young people is fairly steep. Adults can expect to spend up to forty or more hours to learn to soar, depending on their abilities. But the first step is taking a glider ride. Host Marianne Eaton visits the Warren Sugarbush Airport and joins Ron Webster, president of the Sugarbush Soaring Association, for a glider ride high above Vermont's Mad River Valley.