Sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference. The attention to details. When you’re business relies on you taking tourists hang gliding in the Alps, strapping in your passengers is one of those small details that really shouldn’t be overlooked. The video below shows exactly why.
Chris Gursky, an American on vacation in Switzerland, was hoping for a memorable experience. Hang gliding in the picturesque country seemed like a good start, so he and his wife both suited up for their flights.
While his wife took off without incident, Gursky’s pilot neglected to strap him to the hang glider–something Gursky discovered as they left the ground.
“I was just trying to stay calm, trying to hold on for dear life,” Gursky told Good Morning America. “I looked down once and I thought to myself: ‘This is it, I’m going to fall to my death. I’m a goner’.”
The video shows him desperately trying to hold onto both the pilot and the glider.
“I just locked on and held on as long as I could,” he said.
The craft was harder to control because of the shift in balance. That made guiding it safely down even more complicated than it normally would have been.
“I didn’t have much grip left in me, my hand was opening, I was slipping. I had his pant leg and that’s about it,” Gursky said.
The pilot tried to secure him, and to put pressure on his hand so he wouldn’t fall.
More than two minutes after the flight began, the glider was close enough to the ground for Gursky to let go. Yet he was still moving too fast to avoid injury.
The impact resulted in a distal radius fracture in his right wrist.
“I remember looking down and thinking, this is it,” he said. “I was losing grip with my right hand, that was holding onto a strap on the pilot’s right shoulder. He was trying to make a bee line to the landing field as he knew what the situation could bring.”
“My left hand was on the cross bar that was ultimately the landing gear, with a wheel on each side. As we were going down for a hot landing I was slowly losing my grip with my right hand as I was swinging in the wind with the glider.”
“The pilot grabbed my hand, but like in the movies it was a slow motion slipping of the grip until my right hand slipped off and I grabbed another strap on his left side for a bit but this slipped off also.”
“I ended up holding on bar with the left hand and the lower part of his leg with the right when we were nearing the ground. I looked down to see my feet hit first, which ripped me off at about 45 mph as it was a hot landing and I was under the landing gear.”
“I would guesstimate the total flight time was about 5 minutes. When I sat up I knew something was wrong and saw that my wrist was broken. ”
“For two min. 14 seconds I had to hang on for my life! The landing was a rough one, but I lived to tell the story.”
“Upon impact my right wrist suffered a distal radius fracture, which required surgery. A titanium plate and seven screws were installed and I was released the following afternoon. I also tore my left bicep tendon from holding on for so long. It beats the alternative.”
After all of it, Grusky seems forgiving of his pilot.
“While the pilot made a critical error in our pre-flight set up by not attaching me to the glider, he did all he could to get me down to the ground as quickly as possible while grabbing onto my harness and flying with one hand.”
“I will go hang gliding again as I did not enjoy my first flight.”