A Morning Flight

Phil Hystek preparing to fly from ‘Hinchliffe’s Hill’. Photo: Supplied.
Phil Hystek preparing to fly from ‘Hinchliffe’s Hill’. Photo: Supplied.

When I first started my internship at the Canungra Times, I never thought it would end up with me tandem Paragliding above the Scenic Rim at 5.30am. 

For most Canungra residents, sunrise is a time of deep sleep, but Phil Hystek and a committed group of friends would rather soar above the valley in paragliders. 

“Most pilots want to stay in the air for an extended length of time, whereas we are just doing it for the exercise, particularly the walk up.”

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“This allows people who live in Brisbane or the Gold Coast to still get back before work starts.”

On the morning of my tandem flight, I met Phil and a group of four others at the base of John Hinchcliffe’s hill in Illinbah valley at 4am to start the 40-minute ascent to the launch spot. 

We powered up the hill, slippery with dew from the cool night, and arrived at the launch site at around 5am puffing and excited for the flight ahead. 

One by one, the others in our group set up their Paragliders and launched themselves off the hill, floating through the air to their landing sites. 

Phil and I were the last ones to take off, not only because we had the biggest paraglider canopy but also because Phil was coaching a young woman on her fifth flight. 

“I teach, I fly cross country, I do a lot of this sort of thing because I really just love it.”

When we finally launched the tandem into the sky, the view from the harness was incredible. 

“It’s the most beautiful thing to do in the morning, there’s no one around and you get the sunrise to yourself.”

Phil could not have been more right, the flight was like nothing I have ever experienced before. 

Illinbah valley stretched out beneath us as we silently (apart from a few squeals of excitement from me) glided the six minutes down to the field below. 

However for Phil, who has been a member of the Canungra Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club since 1992, this was just a normal morning.

About Keer Moriarty 290 Articles
Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady with Canungra Times.