I'm not afraid of heights, or flying, or thrill rides. So I didn't hesitate to take a parasail ride for an Associated Press story about the activity's lack of safety regulations.
Equipped with a small video camera, I was buckled into a tandem harness along with Miami Beach Parasail crew member Gabriela Samut. With a parachute-like sail already aloft behind the boat, we sat on the aft deck in our harnesses and got clipped into a tow bar. Then the boat picked up speed and we were gradually lifted into the air by the wind.
At first I felt a slight stomach drop and couldn't help but kick my legs in freedom. Soon, the noise of the boat's engine died away and it was akin to riding in a hot-air balloon: there's almost no sound but the wind. At 300 or so feet, we could see rock formations under the clear sea and scan the upper floors of South Beach's famed Art Deco hotels.
Below us, the boat circled. We were connected only by that one thin rope.
Eventually the boat slowed and we gradually descended as the crew winched in the line. A highlight was the "toe dip," where we were just above the water line and were able to stick our feet into the water. Up again we went, then gradually down until we landed gently back on the boat with both feet.
The ride was more exhilarating than scary. In all, the fun lasted about 10 minutes.
View Curt Anderson's parasail ride here: http://bit.ly/PEChxA