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[Tested]: I Believe I Can Paraglide

SmSh gets more high with a paragliding lesson from Flying Heart Paragliding Club.
2016-05-10 14:33:11
"Tested" is our column where we check out goods and services that might be helpful. We see if they're worth your time and money so you don't have to.
"Tested" is our column where we check out new goods and services. We see if they're worth you're time and money so you don't have to.

So, all my co-workers in the esteemed office are all sad, old, cranky white men with brittle bones and weak hearts, and thus the daunting and dangerous task of testing out this paragliding class in Shanghai fell to me, Rhiannon, the SmSh photographer and official office guinea pig for dangerous and daunting things in Shanghai.

Perhaps you've seen my previous work, testing out that giant, elephant intestine-like slide out in that mall in Pudong? That particular co-worker couldn't even fit into the thing. The shame. The indignity.

They've all got 99 problems and China heath insurance is still one. Oh, they're perfectly somewhat adequate with restaurant reviews or whatever else innocuous and benign, just not so much with the stuff that takes real courage, stamina, and fortitude.

Anyways! Paragliding in Shanghai! Yes! It's a very fun thing to try. Here's how it all works.

Who's Behind It: Introducing the Flying Heart Club

The man in the middle is Flying Heart's Wenyu Chan, pictured with two coaches and students.

Wenyu Chan is the co-founder at Flying Heart Paragliding Club, a sports organization that runs paragliding lessons, sending people into the skies seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. Beginner classes are two and a half hours, and geared to groups of two or three.

The camp's location is a big green field in Shenlong Ecological Garden in Fengxian, which is on the east side of Shenlong park, about 46 kilometers north of Shanghai's center. (More detailed directions below.)

Note: Before we get further into it, be aware that Flying Heart does Chinese-language lessons during the week and offers English-language lessons on weekends only. The instructions aren't that difficult to grasp, but if you can only go during the week, maybe it's best to go with a bilingual friend who can assist a bit with translation.

So, Wenyu Chan is a national-level paraglider and also an official judge at paragliding events around China. He's been in the industry for 20 years and started his own company, Flying Heart, in 2004. The camp has five coaches so far, who also have their Level B paragliding certificates. They are also expanding their sports packages to offer kayaking, paddle boarding, hot air balloon rides, and more. Information about those other activities at the bottom, if you're interested.

Payments, Process, and Insurance

Flying Heart offers two paragliding packages: 500rmb for two and a half hours and 700rmb for four and a half hours. Included in this fee is your insurance for the activity, which is required by law. The insurance is 200rmb, which you pay when you book your time slot, transferable to them via Alipay with your passport number and name. It takes one day to process. You pay the rest when you arrive at your lesson.

A Few Things You Should Bring

-If you're a beginner, wear a long sleeve shirt. Often, your posture gets a little off-kilter and the strings from the paragliding harness rub against your inner arms while you try to launch. This is not a pleasant thing.

-Wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. You're going to be hitting the ground a few times...

-Bring some water and snacks with you. Not many places to get a bite to eat out there in the northern Shanghai fields.

Learning to Fly: Here's How the Lesson Works

So, the lesson itself is only around 10 minutes. Then they toss you into the deep end. As part of the ten-minute thing, you get to know how the glide is constructed. Lines that control the glide go into the cell openings, which accumulate enough air to propel the glide upwards. The you let go of the "A Lines", and [attempt to] control the direction of the flight, ending by using the brake lines. It's not all that complicated. Don't feel you have to remember that. They'll tell you.

In the end, it doesn't require too much technical skill, more so your ability to balance.

After the lesson, it's time to try it out. Now, in these two- or three-people groups, you are sharing one glide. So, basically, you're taking turns with the thing, and not actually spending the full amount of time in the air yourself. This is alright, as it turns out, as you will end up needing a break anyways. Again, though, it's a group activity -- best to go with one or two friends who also want to try it out.

This is me in the harness and my classmate, in the blue shirt and heels with no socks. (Maybe don't wear heels with no socks.) She ended up letting fear get the best of her, so it was all me for the entire lesson. This is how you chicken out. Tragic.


Girl in Heels: OMG, is it safe? What if I got carried away by the wind? Omg, omg. What if I got carried away and how are you gonna save me?

Are you gonna fly up and catch me?

Coach in Mask: Uhhh... No.

Girl in Heels: Oh. My. God.


It's a little scary. Not going to lie. It's one of these life moments where you just go for it or you don't. We're all gonna die sometime, right?

The key is going out gloriously.

I'm ready for my Bruce Willis moment. 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky.

Wheeee! I'm flying...kind of... briefly.

After I got to know how actually it works, we moved to a bigger green field with small hills we could launch off of. Fun right?

So, I've tried like maybe 30 times to fly and was successful maybe 6 times. The flow of the wind decides how high you can go but I kept it a non-lethal height -- between 2 to 5 meters. If you wanna fly higher, better check with those pros at the camp before you head out there.

Man, do you see me? Do you see... I'm flying!!! "I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sk-"

-and shit.

Here is a video of how it actually goes down:

Hmmm... maybe bring some extra pants.

Success! I've touched the face of... you know. Alas, my classmate, that poor girl. No one knows where she went. She just disappeared into the wind. Sad story.

More from the Flying Heart Club

So, Flying Heart not only does paragliding, they are have delta wings, kayaking, and paddle boarding (200rmb for 90 minutes). These are delta wings -- the slightly more intense version of paragliding.

The delta wings are 150rmb for a lesson, with no extensive training necessary. These lessons are also geared towards beginners, and you also get to a height of about 2 to 5 meters.

In the future, they're looking to get into biking, camping, archery, and hot air balloon tours.

They also offer joint activity tickets, which is 700rmb for an all-day pass. That means paragliding in the morning and another activity tacked on for the afternoon. You can discuss the specifics directly with them.


More detailed transportation info: Line 5 and Line 8 will soon extend to Shentaiyuan at the end of 2017 and 2018. Until they do, you have to take a subway to Shendu Gong Lu station, Exit 2, and then take a 20-minute taxi to paragliding location, which costs around 70rmb.

If money isn’t an issue, a taxi costs about 170rmb from People's Square.

Here's the contact information of Flying Heart Paragliding Club.