Hang-gliding passenger holds on for dear life after realizing harness not attached
NORTH PORT, Fla. (FOX 13) - The video will give you chills. It looks like it can't be real, but for more than two minutes, it was as real as it gets for a Florida man during a tandem hang gliding trip gone wrong.
A camera mounted to a hang glider captures the moment right after takeoff when Chris Gursky realized the instructor hadn’t clipped him in. Luckily, he lived to tell the story.
Gursky and his wife live in North Port. They were vacationing in Switzerland and they decided to try hang gliding.
She went first and everything went as planned. But when it was Chris’s turn, he said the pilot somehow forgot to strap him in.
Just before takeoff, Gursky is getting ready for takeoff and the pilot is heard saying, "Are you ready? Three-two-one-go! Run run run run run!" But within seconds, Gursky realizes the pilot never hooked his safety harness to the hang glider and begins holding onto the glider -- and the pilot -- for dear life as the pair soars 4,000 feet over the mountainside in Interlaken.
“I was slipping slowly,” Gursky said. “My left hand gripped on to that bar and I wasn't letting go.”
Thousands of feet off the ground, he had to hold on for dear life. Gursky said time seemed to stop and all he could focus on was "not letting go." At one point, he's seen holding on by only one hand as the pilot holds onto Gursky's harness.
“Time stood still I was in survival mode. At one point I looked down and I said, ‘I’m going to fall to my death. I’m dead,’” Gursky recalled.
“I did look down and my first thought was, ‘This [is] beautiful and I’m gonna die,” he continued. “When my feet hit [the ground] I don’t think I could've made it another five or six seconds. My grip was getting to my fingertips.”
Gursky posted the video of his ordeal on his YouTube channel, with the title "Swiss Mishap," when he got home. In just a day, it's amassed more than a million views YouTube. He's now getting interview requests from all over the world.
He needed surgery on his wrist afterward. He received a titanium plate and seven screws and was released from the hospital the next day, he said. He also tore his left bicep tendon from holding on as long as he did, he said.
And even though his first hang gliding trip was terrifying, he will hang glide again since he did not get to enjoy his first flight.
The president of the Swiss Hang Gliding Association has since described the tale as “horrifying.” “This is such a basic mistake,” Christian Boppart told Swiss news site The Local. “On the one hand, it’s tragic and then, on the other hand, they were lucky. It could have been much worse."