A man who went hang gliding for the first time had to cling onto a metal bar for more than two minutes when his pilot forgot to hook him onto the glider, heart-stopping footage has shown.
The auto-parts manager and photographer from Florida had to ‘hang on for his life’ during the ride he videoed, and later named ‘Swiss Mishap’.
After taking off from a 4,000 ft mountain edge Gursky had to hang on for two minutes and 14 seconds as the pilot desperately trying to steer with one hand to get him safely to the ground.
‘I was just trying to stay calm, trying to hold on for dear life,’ Gursky told Good Morning America. ‘I looked down once and I thought to myself: “This is it, I’m going to fall to my death. I’m a goner.”‘
Heart-stopping video shows Chris Gursky’s brush with death when he went hang-gliding in Switzerland but wasn’t strapped in properly and had to hold on for dear life
Seconds after the pair takes off Gursky makes the shocking realization that he isn’t attached
Gursky clings to the metal bar as the pilot attempts to land the aircraft without success
The heart-stopping video shows Gursky, who is wearing a checked shirt and white helmet, realizing he is not attached just seconds after the pilot took off.
‘I just locked on and held on as long as I could,’ he said.
Gursky tightly grips a metal bar with his left hand in the video and holds onto the instructors back with his right as they glide over trees and fields.
The pilot tries his best to bring them down but is having trouble controlling the glider.
As they fly over more trees the craft goes higher and the pilot desperately grabs onto his passenger with his left hand.
‘I didn’t have much grip left in me, my hand was opening, I was slipping. I had his pant leg and that’s about it,’ Gursky said.
Gursky described his near-death experience in an interview with Good Morning America
The glider continued to gain altitude above tall trees as Gursky fought to hold onto the bar
Gursky described the horror gliding experience minute-by-minute in a YouTube video
At one point the pilot grabs onto Gursky’s hand to help him hold on as he dangles in the air while the terrified passenger clings to his pant leg
The pilot attempted to being Gursky close to the ground as quickly as possible in case he fell
When they finally came in for the landing after two minutes of terror, Gursky let go of the bar and fell to the ground as the pilot reached the ground safely
As they begin their descent Gursky clings to the pilot’s leg but starts to lose his grip on the metal bar.
Eventually he was close enough to the ground to let go in what appears to be footage filmed in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Gursky tore his left bicep tendon and had to have surgery on his right wrist after it suffered a distal radius fracture from the impact of dropping to the floor.
Gursky posted a video describing the horror hang-glide on YouTube.
‘I remember looking down and thinking, this is it,’ he said. ‘I was losing grip with my right hand, that was holding onto a strap on the pilot’s right shoulder. He was trying to make a bee line to the landing field as he knew what the situation could bring.
‘My left hand was on the cross bar that was ultimately the landing gear, with a wheel on each side. As we were going down for a hot landing I was slowly losing my grip with my right hand as I was swinging in the wind with the glider.
‘The pilot grabbed my hand, but like in the movies it was a slow motion slipping of the grip until my right hand slipped off and I grabbed another strap on his left side for a bit but this slipped off also.
‘I ended up holding on bar with the left hand and the lower part of his leg with the right when we were nearing the ground. I looked down to see my feet hit first, which ripped me off at about 45 mph as it was a hot landing and I was under the landing gear.
‘I would guesstimate the total flight time was about 5 minutes. When I sat up I knew something was wrong and saw that my wrist was broken.
‘For two min. 14 seconds I had to hang on for my life! The landing was a rough one, but I lived to tell the story.
‘Upon impact my right wrist suffered a distal radius fracture, which required surgery.
‘A titanium plate and seven screws were installed and I was released the following afternoon. I also tore my left bicep tendon from holding on for so long. It beats the alternative.’
Gursky took off and discovered the instructor had failed to attach him to the glider. He sustained a fractured wrist upon landing and a torn bicep
Gursky fractured his wrist and a tore his bicep tendon from hanging on the whole time
Gursky is pictured with his wife Gail, who was with him on the Switzerland vacation in October
Despite his terrifying ordeal, Gursky praised the pilot and even said he’d try hang gliding again.
He said: ‘While the pilot made a critical error in our pre-flight set up by not attaching me to the glider, he did all he could to get me down to the ground as quickly as possible while grabbing onto my harness and flying with one hand.
‘I will go hang gliding again as I did not enjoy my first flight.’
YouTube viewers were stunned by the footage and called Gursky ‘superman’.
Dustin Blanchard said: ‘Holy s*** man I was on the edge of my seat the whole video… glad you’re ok…
‘I’ve always wondered what would happen if you didn’t clip in… now I know.’
The #1 killer of hang glider pilots is forgetting this.
Nelson’s Wings added: ‘You have amazing, superhuman grip strength! You had great focus and will to live.
‘Wonderful you survived. Not sure if it would have helped, but there are two tricks climbers use to desperately cling to things. One is to hook an elbow over the bar, and use the other hand to lock the elbow. The other is to get a leg up on a hold, that takes about half the weight off your arms.’
However, some were furious with the pilot and said he should be banned from flying.
Zoran Allen said: ‘Pilot should have crash landed IMMEDIATELY, end of story. Literally any other person would’ve slipped, fallen, and died.
‘Passenger performed a two minute long dead hang with equipment and against heavy winds. It’s a miracle to say the least.’
Peter Donker said: ‘Just for your info. I know you’re happy the pilot saved your life. But the error is inexcusable. It’s like the guy offering bungee jumps but forgets to check the cord. Flying is not that hard. He had but one task: to check you were hooked in.
‘The #1 killer of hang glider pilots is forgetting this. IMO he should have a really hard look at himself in the mirror and ask himself if he should be doing this.’
Gursky said he was out of hospital the same afternoon with no cast. He also said he is not mad at the pilot.
‘I am past that phase,’ he said to Cross Country Magazine.
‘He did all he could and more. He is a good guy.’
The Gurskys appeared to take it easy on the rest of their holiday in Switzerland