Q&A: Preparing to skydive, junior hang glides in Switzerland

(Photo used by permission of Sikaria)
Junior Smita Sikaria and her instructor soar over a forest in Switzerland while hang gliding.

In July, junior Smita Sikaria and her family traveled to Switzerland. Sikaria, her sister Saachi, ‘16, and her mother went hang gliding in Interlaken.

Q: What was the experience like?

A: I was definitely nervous at first when my dad said, “Do you want to go hang gliding?” But we had to walk up this hill with all of our gear (including helmets and a bodysuit), and it was so heavy that I was almost too tired to be nervous.

I was thinking, “Let’s get this thing done,” but it was actually really fun. I’m glad I said yes to my dad when he asked if I wanted to go.

Q: Why did you decide to go?

A: We got the idea because I want to go skydiving when I’m old enough, and my dad knew that.  He wanted to take baby steps like go hang gliding first, and if (I liked) that then (I could) go skydiving.

Q: Does your family usually try these wild kinds of activities?

A: We’ve never done anything extreme like bungee jumping or skydiving, but we have gone white water rafting and parasailing.

Q: Did you have an instructor hang gliding with you?

A: You have to go to hang gliding school if you want to do it alone, so I did it with an instructor. He was the one controlling it, and I was just on the side.

(Photo used by permission of Sikaria)
Sikaria waits with her father, Lokesh, and sister Saachi, ’16, to board a train in Zermatt.

He actually used to work at American River Rafting, which was pretty cool, because we could talk about Sacramento.

Q: How do you take off and land when hang gliding?

A: For takeoff, the instructor and I walked up a hill to get to a ledge. We built the hang glider there, and we had to put these bars into the hang glider so it would stay straight. Then we got into our gear and attached ourselves to the hang glider.

After we were strapped in, we had to run simultaneously off the ledge. That was the part I was most nervous about.

We landed on the big field, where everyone else in our group was waiting, similar to an airplane landing.

Q: Were you or your family at all scared?

A: I think all of us were pretty nervous before. We actually went in two groups because there were two other people with us, so we went three at a time. So I was waiting at the bottom with my dad who was just watching (the other group).

When the other group landed, my mom was saying, “Oh my god, that was the best thing ever. I’m so glad I did it.”

They definitely enjoyed it. That made me less nervous, seeing them do it first.

(Photo used by permission of Sikaria)
Sikaria stands on the balcony of her hotel room in Wengen. She said that Wengen was her favorite city because it was so small, and she could hear cow bells every morning.

Q: How did Saachi feel?

A: She had fun. It was funny, because once they got closer to the ground, you could hear my sister screaming, “Oh, my god! Oh, my god!” Everyone waiting near the landing site found that funny because she was so high up and you could still hear her screaming.

(Photo used by permission of Sikaria)
Sikaria (middle) with her mother, Chanda, and sister Saachi outside their hotel in Zermatt.

Q: How long were you up in the air?

A:  For around 15 minutes, but walking up the hill and then setting up the hang gliding stuff took around an hour.

Q: After going hang gliding do you think you would skydive?
A: Yes. I think in the future I’d go skydiving, because hang gliding was pretty fun – especially if (the skydiving) was in Switzerland where the view was so great. There were lakes underneath us, and it was really pretty.

Q: What else did you do in Switzerland?

A: We didn’t really go to any big cities. We went to a couple villages in the hills, and we stayed at each one for a couple of days.

The smallest village we stayed at was Wengen. There wasn’t anything in the village except for a couple of hotels, houses and a train station. We stayed there because we wanted to go to Jungfrau Mountain, and there was only one train that went there.

We (also) stayed in the city of Lucerne and a town called Zermatt. Zermatt had a really pretty view of the Matterhorn.

We hiked a little bit, and we just saw the views because there’s not much to do in Switzerland except for seeing the view. We saw a lot of mountains, and we took a lot of train rides.

By Allison Zhang

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