Greeson: Hanging and gliding makes Florida fellow online hit

Greeson: Hanging and gliding makes Florida fellow online hit

November 29th, 2018 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns
Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

America is now well aware of Chris Gursky.

He's a combination of the definition of survivor and the guy who makes the rest of us believe in Darwinism.

Gursky, a Florida resident, because, of course, all of the oddest stories are seemingly connected to people who live in the Sunshine State, has forever put the "hang" in hang gliding.

Last month during a trip to Europe, Gursky was set for a tandem ride with a trained professional. It was not unlike thousands, if not millions, of hang-gliding runs taking place from Lookout Mountain to parts across the globe.

Gursky's pilot, however, forgot one small detail that registers somewhere between a cop remembering his sidearm and a politician remembering his plausible deniability.

He forgot to make sure Gursky's harness was strapped to the glider, so when the pilot started off the 4,000-foot launch point in beautiful Switzerland, Gursky's only connection to the craft was through his hands.

Latched with a grip of death — or more accurately a grip OR death — for 134 seconds, Gursky was gliding while hanging on for his life.

"At one point I looked down and I saw the scenery down there, it was all the treetops changing colors and the little farm houses and I actually thought to myself, 'That is beautiful. I am going to fall to my death there,'" Gursky told CBS News earlier this month. "I probably had five seconds left in me because my hand was starting to slip off that bar."

He has, of course, shared his thoughts and memories on Facebook. "This is it," he posted as for his thoughts. "Nice view I'm going to die," he told CBS.

During the landing, Gursky was violently detached from the glider. He needed immediate surgery that included a titanium plate to repair his broken wrist. He also tore his bicep.

Gursky ended one of his videos with this quote: "I will go hang gliding again as I did not get to enjoy my first flight."

Here's betting that next time, someone triple checks that harness. And, now that Gursky is only injured and not dead, we can offer some thoughts on one of these, "Man, hold my beer" moments.

First, as for the need and desire for hang-gliding adventures, I'm good.

Second, I bungee jumped one time in college. The first question was "How much do you weigh?" "About 225" I said back then. The bungee dude said, "Well, are you more or less than 225?"

"Why?" I asked.

"Because 225's the cutoff. More than that is the big band, less is the smaller one."

My response was simple: "Give me the fat man's bungee, for goodness sake." Why err on the side of a few pounds, right?

Which also leads me to wonder if Gursky, who is a professional YouTuber (for whatever that's worth), may not have rolled the dice with this one.

Gursky was not mad at the instructor for not being strapped in. He also did not even hint at a lawsuit, which is as common as a Honda Accord or Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials in our society.

As for motivation, if you are a self-described pro YouTuber, having a hanging-and-gliding video that has been viewed more than 2.6 million times already on the interwebs is a good thing.

Not sure if it's life-changing, but not strapping a harness into a hang glider certainly could have been.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6343.

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