During Mission Fed’s Discovery Days: Festival of Flight, running November 11 to 14, the San Diego Zoo is offering a special opportunity to take part in a Flying Trapeze class. My job was to experience it in advance and allow myself to have my shocked image used for photo and video publicity in advance of the four-day Festival of Flight. Just one little catch: I’m afraid of heights. So why did I volunteer myself to take flight? Even though I probably held my breath and clenched my teeth the entire time, it was exhilarating! It was an incredibly fantastic experience that will likely be the only open-air opportunity my heart can tolerate to experience flight. Plus, I couldn’t allow my colleague, Matt Steele, the San Diego Zoo’s social media guru, to have all the fun.I climbed up an aluminum ladder, counting each rung. I had to distract my brain as it kept telling me that what I was doing was breaking the laws of physics and that the human body was not meant to fly. Ignoring the practical side of my brain, I focused on the ladder, counting each prong until I got to the top. I lost count when I reached the top and looked down. “Keep an eye on the bar the entire time,” the instructor reminded me. Gladly. I looked up at the bar that I now held above my head. Bent my knees and waited for the signal. “Hep” or GO!
Although my feet felt like lead, I hopped off the platform, arched backwards with my feet pointed, and looked at the sky and bars. I swung back and forth for what seemed like five minutes but in reality was seconds before I got the cue to let go. Do what now? There was one thing I heard loud and clear when I was on the ground receiving instructions on proper body posture: do what you’re told by the instructor exactly when he says it. Not a second later. So when he indicated it was time to let go, I reluctantly did as I was told. I landed on my back, facing up and bouncing lightly on the net below.
I laid there repeating in my head, “I can’t believe I just did that. Breath now. The hard part is over.” I was lying, very comfortably I might add, on the net, relishing the experience. I felt proud of myself for taking the plunge and not backing out last minute. I think I may have been smiling, that is until the instructor said to get off the net and do it again!Wait, what do you mean “again”? Didn’t you get all the pictures and video you needed the first time? Kidding. I made my way off the net and back up the ladder, again and again. I wasn’t going to permit Matt to look better than me, even though in the end he did. For each time he climbed up the ladder and flew, I did the same. He was a little more advanced than I was. He managed to nail every single flight while I didn’t get my legs over the bar on every attempt. I’ll blame it on my fear of heights!
Because I can’t just get rid of my nervousness with one flight, I admit I continued to feel the butterflies flying around in my stomach. But I also felt an excitement unlike any other the moment my feet were in the air. I’m breathless as I write this, remembering the experience. I’ll be flying again soon. I need a rematch with Matt, he just doesn’t know it yet. If you see me in one of the classes at the Zoo, don’t be surprised, but please do remind me to breathe.
Yadira Galindo is a senior public relations representative for the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, All-star Home for Tina, Jewel.
Note: Flying Trapeze class is for ages five and older and is offered November 11 to 14. It costs $69 per person, plus Zoo admission for nonmembers. If you’re interested, read the information on Flying Trapeze for proper clothing, class times, and to reserve your spot, as space is limited.
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