Chris Gursky jumped off a mountain and landed, 4,000 feet later, on a gun range as he clung to a metal bar gliding over Switzerland. It wasn't how his first hang gliding experience was supposed to go.
The North Port resident recently posted video of his terrifying two-minute adventure to YouTube, capturing a near-death trip that somehow ended with only a broken bone, torn bicep and fully intact sense of humor.
Gursky and his pilot take a running start off the side of a mountain on his first hang gliding adventure on his first day of vacation. Only, the pilot forgot to attach him to the glider, so when they took off, Gursky's body dropped instead of gliding along. That's when he summoned all of his action-movie strength.
Photo by Chris Gursky
You remember that scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier where Cap is basically bicep curling a helicopter? Or, like, every Mission Impossible movie ever where Tom Cruise hangs off a mountain or plane or something really, obscenely high? Because it's something like that. Only instead of a super soldier or spy on some world-saving mission, it's a parts manager from a car dealer in Sarasota on vacation with his wife.
There is no jar this man cannot open.
"Gail (Gursky, his wife) and her pilot took off first, looked cool as hell," Gursky wrote on Facebook. "Then my pilot and I lined up for take-off. We waited a bit for the updraft to pick up and then we ran till we left the side of the 4000-foot mountain edge. I was expecting to level out above the pilot as we went, but quickly discovered that my harness was not attached to the hang glider or anything else."
Gursky spends most of the video hanging straight down, his left hand wrapped tightly around the glider's cross bar. His right hand gripping the pilot's shoulder. The pilot tries to make a quick landing, but can't control the glider enough as they glide over a steep tree-lined mountainside, Gursky swaying in the wind, the glider climbing uncontrollably higher.
"I remember looking down and thinking, this is it," he wrote. "I was losing grip with my right hand, that was holding onto a strap on the pilot's right shoulder."
Then he lost it.
It was like slow motion, he said. The pilot grabbed onto Gursky's slipping hand, eventually holding his harness with one hand as he controlled the glider with the other. Gursky's left hand now slipping, the pilot covered it with his own in an attempt to keep him in the air as they floated down.
Gursky's body hung beneath the glider's landing gear. He slammed into the ground around 45 mph, he said. A hot landing to say the least.
When he sat up, Gursky said he could see his wrist was broken, but he wasn't in the clear yet. They landed on a gun range and the pilot had to help him crawl under two electric fences to get to a road where someone could pick them up to take them to the emergency room.
His wife, who took off successfully before him, was none the wiser as the events unfolded.
Gursky wound up needing surgery for his right hand. He got a titanium plate with seven screws installed. His left bicep was torn from hanging on.
Since he more hang-clung than hang-glided, Gursky says it's still on his bucket list and he looks forward to another attempt.
The company even gave him a coupon for a free ride next time, he said.