The latest Wanderlust Program adventure had residents from each Moorings Park community soaring 3,500 feet in the air over Clewiston, Florida.
Seven Moorings Park Communities residents and one brave partner kicked off their summers by soaring through the south Florida skies in an epic hang gliding adventure. This was the latest edition of Moorings Park Communities’ Wanderlust program, an initiative aimed at encouraging unique experiences, goal setting, and neighborly comradery, all of which contribute to a longer, healthier, more vibrant life.
The Wanderlust program has previously organized skydiving and racecar driving events that were wildly successful. So much so, that they will likely become recurring adventures on the yearly schedule.
For those who have jumped out of a plane or flown around a track at 100 mph, hang gliding seemed like a breeze. For those who haven’t, it was an adventure that proved to be relaxing and stress-free; a gateway to future thrills.
Florida’s Hang Gliding Experts
An hour and a half northwest of Naples lies the Florida Ridge Airsports Park in Clewiston. The park has been in business for 33 years, launching an incredible 60,000 tandem hang gliding flights in that time. The 50-acre park sits in the middle of the Florida peninsula where Atlantic and Gulf Coast winds converge, creating excellent and extremely safe flying conditions.
On the bus ride over, the residents all decided that they were going “all the way” and soar the full 3,500 feet in the air before gliding down. Upon arriving at the park, morale was high, and everyone was enthusiastic about getting in the air. Park staff prepped the eager participants with a rundown of what to expect. The mood was light: jokes were cracked and excited smiles were exchanged. Staff passed out water and answered questions, and when the residents gathered around the Ultralight airplane used to drag the glider up into the air, everyone was ready to take flight without hesitation.
Gliding Through the Clouds Like a Bird
Anita Kuhn was the first to fly. This wasn’t the first time Anita has taken to the skies, having enjoyed the Wanderlust skydiving adventure.
“The best part of skydiving was floating, looking around, so that’s what this should be,” she said.
During the information session in the office, one of Anita’s daughters arrived from Sarasota to witness the brave feat her mother was about to embark on, and they embraced tightly before she was escorted to the impressive glider.
“I think it’s awesome, just awesome,” said her daughter. “She’s a motivator to the whole family.” Anita is the matriarch of five-generations.
Everyone watched from a shaded area in the field as Anita prepared for her flight. The task seemed very simple, only requiring guests to maneuver around a few wires before leaning forward into a harness reminiscent of a sleeping bag. The hang glider pilot was fitted with a similar harness just below the tandem rider. It was their responsibility to direct the glider by shifting their body weight, allowing their guests to simply enjoy the ride.
“I’m hoping to get the chance to do a little steering,” said Alan Horton. “I’m excited, especially knowing my kids are going to get a kick out of the photos.”
The Park provides a media package for guests to relive and share their experience in the air for years to come.
“I can’t chicken out,” said Joyce Kelly. “I have to tell my daughters I did it.”
Once Anita was strapped in and fitted with a helmet, the staff backed away from the glider and the plane embarked. Within thirty seconds, she was soaring. It was a hot day, but the sky was strewn with large clouds that soon hid the glider. Everyone had their eyes peeled, and the question, “where did they go?” soon echoed around the entire group. “There! I see them!” someone would shout and point up to the sky. From the ground, the glider was no bigger than the size of a fingernail and looked like a great eagle flying through the clouds.
As the glider descended to the ground, everyone wanted to go next.
The Wanderlust Program Continues to Offer Simply the Best Experiences
One by one, everyone took to the skies, and the reaction to being 3,500 feet above the ground was unanimous: it was simply the best.
“I’m really happy I went! I had a good time, actually,” said Eileen Chittick.
“My kids and grandkids would be thrilled to know I did it. [They’d] all be excited for Granddad,” added Alan. “I’m trying to make arrangements to do it again with them.”
“Great flight!” exclaimed Joyce. “It’s beautiful up there. I wasn’t scared at all. There’s that moment when [the pilot] cuts the cord. That’s the best. You just glide.”
The Next Adventure
Before the residents arrived home from their latest adventure, they were already plying Wellness Directors Robert Sorenson and Brett Swanson with questions about the next one. They did not confirm, but it’s possible that a future trip will involve water and a wet suit, which sent a wave of excitement through the entire bus. It’s exactly that kind of forward thinking, goal setting, and enthusiasm that makes the Wanderlust program a special part of the Moorings Park successful aging lifestyle and mindset.
As Wellness Director Robert expertly puts it, “this amazingly curated collection of experiences reminds us all that age is just a number.”