San Diego Paragliding and Hang Gliding

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Have you ever wanted to fly like a bird? Be as free as the wind?
Try San Diego paragliding and hang gliding at the Torrey Pines Gliderport!

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San Diego Paragliding and Hang Gliding

Paragliding and hang gliding are unmotorized flying-sports. The two are similar in that you rely on the wind and thermal updrafts to help you glide in the air.

In paragliding, you are strapped into a harness which is shaped like a chair. The harness is strung up to a parachute-like canopy called a "wing". The strings that connect the harness to the wing are collected into two bundles called "risers". The wind keeps you afloat while manipulation of the risers will direct your flight path.

Hang gliding is similar to paragliding and some consider one as a subset of the other. In Torrey Pines Gliderport, the hang gliders are made with an internal, aluminum frame so that the wing is V-shaped (more like a kite than a parachute). The person is in a lying face-down position. Hang gliders are also un-motorized and rely on wind and thermal columns. Hang gliders are heavier than paragliders thus they require stronger winds, but they can glide further and faster.

Generally speaking, paragliding and hang gliding are considered specialized sports which require much skill. However, you can get a taste of flight by going tandem: this is to say, an experienced instructor goes with you and s/he helps you maneuver the aircraft.

San Diego Paragliding: Tandem Flights

The Torrey Pines Gliderport offers tandem flights for those who want to experience the freedom of flight. Tandem paragliding flights are $150 and tandem hang gliding flights are $175. Most tandem flights at Torrey Pines are paragliding.

Tandem flights: what to expect:

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Sign up and pay at the office (about 10 minutes). Speak with the instructor so that you get to know one another. Let's face it, both you and the instructor want a safe ride, so take the time to get to know each other before you fly (about 15 minutes).

Then you are ready to go - wait, not yet - you can only go if the wind conditions are agreeable. So be patient and be ready to wait. With patience and luck, you will soon kick off and soar with the birds! The flight is about 20 minutes and then you land back at the gliderport. Opps - wind died down? If absolutely necessary, the instructor will do a beach landing. Port landing is the primary target and beach landing is a second option. You do not land on the water and landing on the cliffside (crash) is definitely not an option. Torrey Pines Gliderport has been accident free since 1997 (that's over 35,000 safe tandem flights).

San Diego Paragliding: Classes

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Torrey Pines Gliderport offers classes so that you can embark on your own adventures. One-day lessons cost $200 to $300 per day whereas Beginner and Novice packages cost over $1000. Upon completion of the Novice Package, you will be certified and are technically proficient to fly without supervision of an instructor. Tandem flights and the Beginners package includes use of equipment, but all other lessons require that you have your own equipment.

And how much does paragliding equipment cost? Approximately:

new paraglider $3000+
new harness $700+
new reserve chute $700+
new helmet $200+

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Not sure Yet?

San Diego Paragliding and hang gliding is surely not for the faint of heart. So, if you are not sure yet, why not just go and have a look? Torrey Pine Gliderport has a observation deck where you can sit and just watch people do their stuff. Some will be there to soar with the eagles, and some will be there for land-based practice.

A small restaurant (Deli by the Sea) serves up soups, salads, and sandwiches. Patio chairs and tables are under an umbrella so that you can enjoy the view while in the shade.

Once you're done, you can always walk down to Blacks Beach and watch the paragliders soar along the sandstone cliffs. (Caution: the hike down to the beach is steep and may be unsafe. Not to mention, Blacks Beach is a clothes-optional beach.)

Location, Hours of Operation

Torrey Pines Gliderport
2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-452-9858
Fax: 858-452-9983

Torrey Pines Gliderport is open seven days a week, 9 to 5, but whether or not you fly will depend on the weather. You require a westerly wind of at least 7 mph before you can launch. It is recommended that you call to inquire on wind conditions before coming. Generally, flying is best in the early afternoon. Spring offers the best wind conditions but you can pretty much paragliding any time of the year.

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