By Scott Lawson
Venice Gondolier Sun Editor
It’s a bit like that tired cliché: After falling off a horse, you need to get back in the saddle.
Except, in this case, the horse was a hang glider and the near fall was about 1,000 feet to his death.
Chris Gursky isn’t letting 2 minutes 14 seconds of life stop him from living the rest of his.
Gursky and his wife, Gail, were on vacation in Switzerland in 2018. As a part of their vacations, the North Port couple tries to do one adventurous thing, like hot air balloons or ziplines.
On Oct. 13, they went hang gliding. Gail Gursky took off with her pilot and had an amazing time.
Chris Gursky and his pilot left a few moments later — and it nearly cost Chris Gursky his life.
His pilot did not attached Gursky to the glider — at all. Gursky, 54, held on as the glider went dozens, then hundreds and then more than 1,000 feet above the ground.
The video of his struggle, which ends with him hitting the ground hard 134 seconds later, has nearly 10 million views online.
Less than a year after the harrowing experience, Chris and Gail Gursky are returning to Switzerland.
“We’re trying to get our vacation complete this time,” Chris Gursky said recently. “The last time we went, the first day we had our accident. We’re going to do the things we wanted to do … a little traveling around the country and see the things we wanted to see.”
The entire trip is being paid for by the Interlaken, Switzerland tourism board, which took note of the couple’s first experience and “they’re trying to make it right,” Gursky said.
And, yes, this trip will include hang gliding.
“There’s two hang-gliding places in Interlaken. My wife still has some issues with the original one, so we’re going with the other,” he said.
His next flight hang gliding is set for Sept. 25.
“My wife keeps saying: ‘You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to do this.’ I just say I really want to. I need to,” he said.
After he posted the video online, it went viral. More than eight months later, people still ask him about the experience. At its height, news crews from around the world were seeking his time.
“At first, it was incredibly overwhelming,” he said. “It was a big distraction, but ... things have really calmed down now.”
The video has been viewed 9.6 million times. For those wondering if going viral online is a way to get rich quick, the millions of hits doesn’t equate to millions of dollars. Thus far, he’s earned “probably five-figures” in terms of money, he said.
He recently began his own business, CMG Home Inspections LLC. He has two business cards, one traditional and one less-so. The second features a screen shot of the hang gliding mishap with words and an arrow pointing to the man hanging by one hand with the words: THAT’S ME.
Along with the hang gliding, they will have a rail pass, boat cruise on a the local lake, along with a trip up to “Jungfraujoch,” which translates roughly to Top of Europe.
There’s also a valley where people are hooked to a line, jump off a cliff and swing “like a pendulum,” he said. “I kind of like the looks of that.”
But he stresses he’s not a daredevil. He loves a thrill, but he isn’t trying to die.
“Daredevils are going to do things that are going to be life or death in just about every situation,” he said. “We like to try things that are regulated … nothing crazy. It’s not something we do all the time.”
He has never been critical about the first experience, saying his pilot was experienced.
“He was a good pilot, he just made a bad mistake,” he said at the time.
He still urges others to work to get beyond fear.
“If anybody has any apprehensions about doing stuff like this: Don’t wait. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you can’t do something like this. Live your life.”