Soaring with the crows and eagles – paragliding over Santa Barbara

Last weekend, I finally got to do something I’d wanted to for some time – paraglide.

Steve hang-glides and while that’s fascinating and fun to watch, I never wanted to do it because it always seemed like so much work, so much training, and a lot of heavy gear. While talking with everyone at the top waiting for the wind to turn the right direction, it seems my suspicions were confirmed.

So, I went on a tandem paraglide with Chris (a paraglider pilot) of Fly Above All. It took a long time for the wind to come up so we could take off. This is the top of the launch zone and you can see how flat the ocean was – like smoothed out glass – which means very little wind.


There were probably 8-10 hang-gliders and about the same number of paragliders at the top waiting … gear all over the place, sun beating down. Notice that tell tale (the ribbon on the pole)? It’s going the wrong direction.

Waiting at the launch zone

I learned this is called the hang-wait or the para-wait, i.e., not gliding. Lots of gliders set up and waiting.


And then, as the rocks below start to heat up, the wind direction shifts and there’s a little ripple of expectation through the group. People start gearing up.

Me and Chris waiting to launch

When it came our turn in line – this is a very genial group, no pushing in line to get the first wind, and everyone helps everyone else launch – we stood waiting for the little burst of wind that would indicate our best launch.

Waiting to jump

Waiting to jump

Waiting to launch

And when Chris said walk, I walked and when he said run, I ran about two steps and then felt no ground beneath me … it was that quick!

Tandem paraglide

Woohoo! It was great fun. The wind rushed by and Chris talked me through the turns. I got pretty nauseous with the figure 8 stuff, but it was still great. I got to take the controls for a while and did some of the turns prior to landing, so I get how it works.

We watched for the crows and eagles to see where they were getting lift and then we’d follow over where they were to get lift too. The landing was dead easy – as I expected it to be – none of that crazy stuff the hang-gliders have to do. I think I do want to do this in the future, but it may take a little time before I can get it worked in. Will have to see. Steve wants very much to do it too.

fourteenergirl Written by:

A mother, sister, wife, and daughter who writes, knits, hikes, and practices yoga on the west coast. Loves a zippy chardonnay or a tart margarita!

One Comment

  1. Ellen Lukasik
    December 4, 2013

    You’ve been having so much fun lately. I’m so happy for you. I know it’s not Colorado, but you do seem to be getting the hang of California. Good for you.

    It’s 10 degrees and snowing here. Walt’s office and I suppose many others closed early so people could get home safely. Remember how much fun that is???!



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