Monday, March 3, 2008

Paragliding, Torrey Pines, CA (Sat.3/1)

It's Christmas come early for me.

I believe Paragliding is one of the questions on your health insurance form, but I didn't check it out first. First you sign and initial no less than 8 pages of stuff including impossible wording where they are “not liable even in the case of extreme negligence”. I believe the pilot can disconnect you from the parachute while in flight if you have bad breath – it's that kind of wording. There is no weight limit and no age limit. Just give $140 (cash price) and you're their best friend for 20 minutes.

They said I'd receive 10 minutes of pre-flight instructions, but it was no more than 2 minutes of the instructor telling me a few things while he's strapping me in.

Some who went before me would inflate their chute and walk off the edge of the 400 foot cliff. When I started we were about 10 feet off the ground when we went over – quite thrilling!

When we arrived there was no one up, but by the time I got going there were 19 in flight and I have no reason to believe this was a particularly busy day. Flying over the Torrey Pines golf course was beautiful – I'm guessing when the US open is here later this year there will be a lot of people up here (or maybe they don't allow people to fly during this?)

I'm the one just down from the one second to the end of the group on the right... whatever – I'm one of those out there. I should have taken one of our camera's with me as the view from up there was a lot better than the view looking out at us and then it wouldn't be one of the "little black dot" photos.

He let me steer? pilot? (whatever the terminology is) quite a bit – maybe that's because he couldn't see over me. In flight, we could see a couple dolphins swimming right next to some of the surfers.

I requested some tight spins so we gained altitude to roughly 150 feet above the edge of the cliff. He had me lean hard left, then hard right and hard left again and we were in a very tight spin dropping about 400 feet in a few seconds. Now we were half way down the face of the cliff, but we climbed quickly while at the same time moving across the edge of the cliff at about 15mph – the instructor estimated.

I knew I would like this guy when I asked him how long he'd been doing this and he replied “a couple months”, then laughter... He never did tell me his credentials, we just took off. After the flight I found him on their documentation and he's a pioneer in the sport, world record holder in some events, and designs and tests new equipment. The whole works.

The boys were very excited for me (possibly they didn't expect me to return), but it's the welcome every dad loves!

Thanks, Uncle Al, for telling me about it – what a ride!

No comments: