What is it like to fly? What is it like to throw yourself off a cliff holding on to a thin bit metal and nylon?

 The Irish Hang Gliding team are getting as much training in as possible before they depart for the World Hang Gliding Championships in Austria.  

Near Roundwood in County Wicklow, people launch themselves off a mountainside, putting their trust in the light metal and nylon contraption that is a hang glider, and their knowledge of wind currents. 

A growing sport worldwide this year the Irish Hang Gliding Association will send a team to represent Ireland in the European Hang Gliding Championships. 

Veteran hang glider Gerry O'Reilly explains the training and safely tips provided during weekend courses run by the Irish Hang Gliding Association. It is not encouraged to teach yourself.  

The record to date for the longest distance ever travelled in Ireland is eighty kilometres, in a time of three hours. The world distance record is three hundred and fifty four kilometres. 

No one takes to the skies without their parachute, a full safety check on their glider, and having checked the weather forecast and wind speeds in advance. 

The weather is Ireland’s worst enemy. 

There is also an added cost to this already expensive aerial pastime, as association member Peter Willis explains. Hang gliding enthusiasts must insure themselves, as public liability insurance in Ireland was withdrawn from all adventure sports. Getting sponsorship from businesses for their travel to compete in the European Championships has proven difficult too. The thrill of flying is worth it.

You’re relying on your own skill to use the rising air currents and stay aloft...it’s a real adrenaline trip.

RTÉ News reporter Peter McNiff was persuaded to try it out, and might possibly be a future Hang Gliding Association member himself, describing his experience thus,

If you’ve ever dreamed you could fly, that’s what it’s like.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 17 May 1985. The reporter is Peter McNiff.