“Fly like an eagle” — you can sing about it (think the Steve Miller Band) or, if you’re like Steve Van Fleet, you’re actually doing it every chance you get.
Van Fleet is a tandem paraglide pilot for U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Outdoor Recreation program.
“It’s flying in its purest form … the ultimate freedom,” said Van Fleet, who has paraglided for about four years.
The Stuttgart tandem paragliding program is the first in the Army, according to Van Fleet.
“This is cutting edge. We’re very proud of it,” he said.
Outdoor Recreation’s paragliding destinations are as diverse as Europe itself: Lake Garda and Bassano del Grappa, Italy; Zillertal, Austria; Garmisch and Baden-Baden in Germany.
“We take you wherever we need to — wherever the weather is nice,” said Van Fleet.
Steve Roark recently had his first paragliding experience through the Outdoor Recreation program.
“There is a moment — as you’re on the hill facing the valley — where you think maybe this isn’t the smartest thing to do. But after taking three steps you’re airborne. You’re a passenger at that point,” said Roark.
“It was the closest thing to flying like a bird that I’ve ever experienced,” he said.
Outdoor Recreation also offers a program where future paraglide pilots can earn their solo license.
“It takes about 20 days — a weekend here, a few days there,” said Van Fleet. “It can be done over a summer.”
The license is good all over the world, he added.
A 20-minute flight costs $150 and includes transportation. For more information, call Outdoor Recreation at 431-2774/civ. 07031-15-2774.