Hang gliding is misunderstood. Mark Furst is a skilled instructor working to change that.
To tell this story, however, we first need to back it up. Before we get in the air we first get our lessons on the ground.
Mark Furst is an excellent hang gliding instructor. He's been flying for 23 years and has a perfect safety record in the sky. Hang gliding requires little physical strength but a great deal of understanding and respect. Safety is a priority.
In fact before 27 News feature reporter Joe LaBarbera could even strap in and fly, Mark gave him some basic instruction and a safety talk. After the all important waiver signing, they were one step closer to being one with the sky and the push out toward the runway begins.
Strapping in is a little like doing the hokey pokey. After they wrestled a little bit with the harnessing and suspension so they were snuggled up tight, everyone is ready to go.
Then there's a waggle of the flight controls and Furst and LaBarbera hit the gas!
They were being pulled into the sky by a towplane, because the hang glider doesn't have an engine. It's only a few seconds before they're airborne. Once the tow rope is cut, they're all are on their own. They could go up several thousand feet and stay up for ten, fifteen minutes or more without a problem, but opted instead for a thousand feet up and a little shorter of a flight.
Flying without an engine is easy when you understand the physics of unpowered flight. Hang gliding is exciting but not as scary as you think it might be.
Anybody at any age can strap in to Furst's hanglider and experience flight. He's doing all the work. LaBarbera is mostly just along for the ride.
Mark tells us he views hang gliding much differently than he sees flying. "To me, I think regular aviation is driving in the sky and we're actually flying."
"It's the most fun thing you can do with your clothes on," he added.
It is fun. And of course if flying is the second greatest thrill known to man, landing must be the first. But only because once you land you have the opportunity to go back up one more time
"I never force people to do it," said Furst, "but I really just want people to come out and try it because it is really a fun thing."
A fun thing, that has a way of drawing you in, getting you hooked, and not letting go.