The Truth about Hang Gliding and Golf!
I have been an avid hang glider pilot for 20 years. It has been my passion, my escape and my obsession. A quote from Leonardo da Vinci sums it up nicely: "For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return."
It is like nothing I have ever experienced. Most people imagine it is a thrill sport that involves jumping off a cliff and gliding back down to earth. In fact, it is far from that. We actually "launch" off the cliff and you can actually feel the glider trying to pull you up into the sky. I have been on hundreds of flights, each lasting hours at a time and have risen as high as 12,000 feet. You can also travel pretty far while hang gliding. In fact, in 2012, Dustin B. Martin flew 475 miles in a single flight.
I even bought a house at the landing zone so I could fly every day. My hang gliding teacher Joe Greblo and I became friends and we took on many an adventure. I have flown wing tip to wing tip with condors and hawks, played with ravens and flew so much I stopped thinking of my hang glider as a separate piece of equipment, but as part of my body.
One day, I was flying in Los Angeles. It was a great day and I was getting lots of lift and could stay up easily. I flew out over the local golf course. As I did, I looked down and saw a guy putting. He was alone and was quite far from the hole. He swung and the ball traveled a convoluted and winding path until, miraculously, it landed in the cup. It was a shot of a lifetime. He threw his hands in the air and jumped for joy. Then he looked around from side to side, hoping that someone had witnessed this incredible moment. I could see his shoulders slump when he thought no one had seen his accomplishment.
Just then, I yelled down, "GREAT SHOT!" Shocked, he looked around, but saw no one. I yelled again and this time he looked up as if it were God talking to him. He caught sight of me flying above and screamed with glee, so glad someone had witnessed his amazing shot. I have told this story many times.
Sometime later, I was back out in LA working and flying, and found myself sitting around reminiscing with my hang gliding buddies when I recounted this story as my best experience while aloft. My teacher, Joe Greblo, chirped, "HEY! That's my story!!!"
What? I was stunned that he made such a claim, because I remembered the day, the golf course, and the ball traveling over the hill and into the cup. I tried to laugh it off, but I was really embarrassed. You see, I wasn't lying when I told the story. The thing is, I had actually retold his hilarious story so many times, I had convinced myself it had happened to me and it had become my story.
There's a name for what I did. It's called the misinformation effect – when our recollection of specific events becomes less accurate due to post-event information. We all experience it and it casts doubt on how reliable and permanent our memories really are.
Remind me to tell you the story of the time I was the first man on the moon. Stay skeptical and question everything!
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