CORVALLIS, Ore. - Hang gliding offers bird's-eye views of mountain peaks and coastal scenery.
"We fly with the eagles, wing tip to wing tip, because they're not afraid of us," John Matylonek said.
Matylonek owns and operates Oregon Hang Gliding School, teaching students and thrill seekers how to soar hundreds of feet up in the sky, suspended from inside of a personally launchable aircraft.
As opposed to flying a plane, Matylonek says learning how to pilot one of these gliders takes about 85 hours.
"Learning how to fly a hang glider would be a little bit more challenging because there's no machines, it's all you buddy," Matylonek said. "That's the major misconception across the nation [that] because somehow its simpler it should be easier."
Hang gliding relies almost 100 percent on you as the pilot: you're steering and directing with your body motion and slowing and speeding yourself up according to hand placement. As for safety, the hang glider is ultimately as dangerous as the pilot flying it, according to the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.
Matylonek compares hang gliding to scuba diving and martial arts in that flying takes skillful practice and concentration, especially among an environement completely infamiliar to the pilot.
"You're going to be over areas that people hardly ever see, you're going to see things people hardly ever see," Matylonek said.
"Let's start out with just diving right in to hang gliding," he told Katie Boer from KVAL News, who set out to try hang gliding for the Extreme Katie series. "We'll get into the electronic simulator first. We're going to run off this mountain - in the computer."
In this sport, weather is everything. The jetstream, wind speeds and air currents all factor into ground school training.
This aviation art is technical: Wrong hand placement or simple a slip of the fingers will be the difference between soaring and crashing to the ground.
Once ground school is over, it's time to "go find some wind," but don't expect to take flight right away.
Most students start on a hillside before launching off cliffs, learning that their running speed has a lot to do with compensating for weather conditions.
For instance, it's a light wind day - only about 5 mph - which calculates out to running at least 7 miles an hour to get airborne.
"I'm running as fast as I can with this 50 pound hang glider on my back," Boer said, "but I'm not flying."
The frustration is normal, running as fast as you can down the hill side, but lifting off the ground takes practice...and typically a couple crash landings.
"That was amazing. That is beyond any feeling of adrenaline I have ever experienced!" Boer said, then added:
"My landing needs work."