Since starting as the Jockey’s Ridge State Park Superintendent in 2017, Joy Greenwood watched our hang gliders flying nearly every day. But with her position comes a sizable workload, which has stifled previous attempts to join our instructors for a lesson. But, after many conversations, we knew it would only be a matter of time until she took flight. This February we got a beautiful, sunny day, and Joy leaped at the opportunity. She came out for a lesson, and now we are happy to report we have a new pilot in training!
There had been some time leading up to this point for Joy to see other people flying. But, when asked what it was like to finally get out there, Joy ecstatically replied, “It was truly exciting. Having watched so many people come off the dunes with such happy looks on their faces, I really wanted to know what it felt like to hang glide.” And although excited for herself, we came to find she’s often thinking of the park’s visitors first. Which is why for Greenwood, she feels it’s important to be able to explain to our visitors what to expect. “As the park superintendent, I feel it’s important to understand all aspects of what our visitors experience here. There are many people who come from all over the world to hang glide here. And I wanted to have some insight into what draws them to Jockey’s Ridge.”
When we said ‘excited’ earlier, that perhaps was an understatement. So, we were not at all surprised to see Joy jump right into things. And although she claimed some nerves, we did not see any!
“Once the initial nervousness was over, I was able to take things in a little more. The beauty of seeing the ocean off in the distance and feel the air blow over my whole body was exhilarating. I can’t wait to get more practice and go on longer trips.”
When we saw her smile, we knew she finally had felt THAT feeling. The wind, the sand, the views. We finally got to share the feeling we knew so well, and with someone who has become such a great friend of ours. There is no better feeling in the world than when you feel your feet leave the sand as the wind picks you up. Except for the feeling of seeing that moment passed along to a friend and student. The moment, is indescribable.
The new perspective was an exciting new take for her as well. She reflected on how “the view of flying over the dunes is absolutely beautiful.” Our crew really appreciated that even the park superintendent, who has seen every inch of the park, appreciated the different angles of things. “It is a wonderful experience to enjoy the beauty of the park from a different point of view.”
Stories like Superintendent Greenwood’s are plentiful from the thousands of students who have graced the threshold of the oldest hang gliding school in the world. Hearing each experience continues to reinforce the staff and the sport of hang gliding to continue to Teach the World to Fly.