Man Barely Survives First Hang Glider Ride After Pilot Forgets to Strap Him in

It would be easy to psyche yourself out before hang gliding for the first time imagining all the things that could go wrong, even when you know a pro is going to be piloting the rig from take-off to landing. But just imagine your nightmares coming true when you realize -- midair -- that your guide made a critical error, forcing you to cling to the bar for dear life for several minutes while suspended thousands of feet above the ground.

Well, you don't actually have to imagine it now, because that's exactly what happen to one poor guy during a recent vacation, and it was all captured on camera. And fair warning: the footage will make your damn palms sweat. 

During a recent trip to Switzerland, Florida resident Chris Gursky opted to give hang gliding a shot and signed up to take a flight over the lush landscape with a professional pilot. However, shortly after takeoff, things went horribly wrong when it became clear that Gursky wasn't strapped in to the glider. To avoid certain death, he was forced to cling to the rig for dear life as it rattled back and forth in the air, all while the pilot desperately attempted to make an emergency landing.

The hair-raising incident was all captured on camera and uploaded to YouTube by Gursky. In it, you can see things start to unravel almost immediately after they push off from the edge of a mountain, as Gursky dangles like a rag doll thousands of feet in the air with one hand on the glider bar and one gripping his pilot. Evidently, the pilot made a critical pre-flight error by neglecting to double-check that his passenger was strapped in, which led to the terrifying encounter.

"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," Gursky explained to the Daily Mail. "He was trying to make a beeline to the landing field as he knew what the situation could bring."

Miraculously, after a little more than two minutes in the air, the pilot managed to make an emergency landing. However, upon impact, Gursky suffered a broken wrist that required surgery, and was found to have torn his bicep due to the prolonged one-armed dangling.

It's unclear whether the pilot will face any consequences for such a safety breach, but one thing's for certain: Gursky isn't going to let his near-death experience keep him from hang gliding again.

"I will go hang gliding again as I did not enjoy my first flight," he declared at the end of his video. 

Let's hope things go a bit smoother next time.


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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.