One of my favorite rides at Disney’s California Adventure has always been Soarin’ Over California. I love how the smell-o-vision aromas of oranges and evergreens fill the room, the way my feet dangle over the edge of the seat like I’m six-years-old again, but most of all, the thrill I get from imagining I’m hang gliding over the Golden State.

Joe Greblo and his staff at Windsports aim to make that thrill a reality with their hang gliding training programs. Their lessons are taught in three phases: beach flying lessons on a training slope at Dockweiler State Beach, tandem (dual) flight lessons at their Sylmar Flight Park and finally, solo lessons on Kagel Mountain.

I recently attended a beach lesson with first-time flier, TJ Webber. After filling out release forms and getting suited up in a flight harness and helmet, the instructor, Linden, began explaining fundamentals about the glider, body positioning and basic terms, like how to “bump” and “yaw.”

Then, Webber and each of the four other students (there’s a maximum of five students per beginner lesson) took turns running down the 25-foot high sand dune before launching about six-feet into the air. Upon return, Linden would give the student tips to improve their next flight, and the next flier would take his turn. The entire lesson lasted about three and a half hours.

Windsports claims, “If you can rollerblade or ride a bike, you can hang glide.”

After his first few turns with the glider, Webber agrees: “I felt so secure and comfortable, I wanted to get even higher.”

According to Webber, the most strenuous part of the entire day was not the flying, it was having to haul the 50-pound glider back up the slope after landing. Make sure to really stretch your back and shoulders before the lesson begins, and bring a few bottles of water.

When asked if he plans on going back to Windsports for another lesson, Webber wholeheartedly says, “Of course!”

Park beach lessons are Wednesday through Sunday every week, and the $120 cost includes instruction, flight gear and seven flights.

The next steps in Windsports’ program take place at their Sylmar facility. Tandem adventure flights take place seven days a week for $199 per lesson, and allow you to soar in the skies over Kagel Mountain accompanied by a certified instructor. If you’re serious about becoming a certified glider pilot and purchase a full equipment package from Windsports, lessons are only $85 or $135 tandem.

With Windsports as your guide, it isn’t hard to make your flying fantasies a reality. For, as Webber quips, “Who doesn’t want to fly?!”

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