First-Time Hang-Glider Clings On For Dear Life After Pilot Forgets To Clip Him In
A classic bucket list item for many is a heart-stopping activity like parachuting or hang-gliding. It's a chance to get the ultimate rush of adrenaline, safe in the knowledge that, thanks to modern technology, your chances of death are almost nonexistent. Almost. As we all know, activities like these are still fallible to human error and this can result in tragedy.
This is something a first-time hang-glider learned the hard way when, on his first ever hang-gliding experience, the pilot forgot to strap him into the hang glider, forcing him to cling on for dear life for a whopping two minutes and 14 seconds.
This is the moment he realized he wasn't strapped in after taking off from a 4,000ft mountain edge:
The shocking incident took place in Interlaken, Switzerland on the first day of YouTuber Chris Gursky's holiday.
As the video above demonstrates, Chris, who is wearing a checked shirt, realized that he was in a perilous situation seconds after taking off and desperately clings onto the bar of the hang-glider and his instructor's back.
Although the pilot tries his best to bring the pair to safety as quickly as possible, he has trouble navigating the craft and in the video, the hang glider can be seen rising higher into the air as the pilot tries to hold onto his passenger.
By the time the pair begin their descent, Chris loses grip on the metal bar and has no option but to cling to the pilot's leg.
Once close enough to the ground to let go with minimal damage, Chris is finally free from his ordeal. Understandably, he didn't emerge unscathed and tore his left bicep tendon and had to have surgery on his right wrist, which suffered a distal radius fracture when he finally let go of the hang glider and hit the ground.
Recounting the ordeal, Chris said, "My body weight shifted straight down and I found myself hanging on for my life."
"I remember looking down and thinking, this is it. I was losing grip with my right hand, that was holding onto a strap on the pilot's right shoulder. He was trying to make a beeline to the landing field as he knew what the situation could bring."
"My left hand was on the crossbar that was ultimately the landing gear, with a wheel on each side. As we were going down for a hot landing I was slowly losing my grip with my right hand as I was swinging in the wind with the glider"
"The pilot grabbed my hand, but like in the movies, it was a slow-motion slipping of the grip until my right hand slipped off and I grabbed another strap on his left side for a bit but this slipped off also."
"I ended up holding onto the bar with the left hand and the lower part of his leg with the right when we were nearing the ground. I looked down to see my feet hit first, which ripped me off at about 45 mph as it was a hot landing and I was under the landing gear."
"I would guesstimate the total flight time was about 5 minutes. When I sat up I knew something was wrong and saw that my wrist was broken."
"For two min. 14 seconds I had to hang on for my life! The landing was a rough one, but I lived to tell the story."
"Upon impact, my right wrist suffered a distal radius fracture, which required surgery."
"A titanium plate and seven screws were installed and I was released the following afternoon. I also tore my left bicep tendon from holding on for so long. It beats the alternative."
While this experience would understandably be enough to make anyone want to sue the pilot and put them off hang-gliding for life, Chris praised the pilot for his actions during the ordeal and incredibly said that he'd be open to trying it again.
"While the pilot made a critical error in our pre-flight set up by not attaching me to the glider, he did all he could to get me down to the ground as quickly as possible while grabbing onto my harness and flying with one hand," he said. "I will go hang-gliding again as I did not enjoy my first flight."
Needless to say, viewers of the heart-stopping footage had a lot to say about it online.
Dustin Blanchard wrote: "Holy s*** man I was on the edge of my seat the whole video... glad you're ok..."
Nelson's Wings added: "You have amazing, superhuman grip strength! You had great focus and will to live."
The pilot was, perhaps justifiably, subject to a lot of criticism too.
Zoran Allen said: "Pilot should have crash landed IMMEDIATELY, end of story. Literally, any other person would've slipped, fallen, and died."
Chris revealed that although he required medical treatment after the incident, he was discharged from hospital the next afternoon without a cast and emphasized that he wasn't angry at the pilot for his mistake.
"I am past that phase," he said to Cross Country Magazine. "He did all he could and more. He is a good guy."