Paragliding in the US
What is Paragliding?
Paragliding is a fast growing sport that makes use of a lightweight aircraft and is maneuvered by launching the aircraft through foot and making use of mountainous or hill slopes as the launching points. The wing of a paraglider is made primarily from a strong fabric called a rip-stop nylon fabric that is also used in other aircrafts such as hot air balloons, parachutes and camping equipment like tents.
Global Interest in Paragliding
More recently, paragliding has gained so much interest by people around the world. Premiere paragliders made the sport even more popular by holding tours all over the world. So far, the largest population of paragliding pilots is in France with a rough estimate of 25,000 pilots in the year 2004.
Other countries that advocate the sport include South American countries like Peru, Argentina, Brazil; European countries include Germany, Austria, and Italy; Asian countries with large numbers of paragliders include Japan, South Korea and China. In 2004, the United States has a rough total estimate of around 4,500 pilots but this number still continues to grow rapidly right now. The number of pilots in the United States keeps growing through advocacy and creation of paragliding training schools and events.
In the USA
In the United States, there are certain paragliding sites that will provide expert pilots and beginning enthusiasts a ride that will far exceed their expectations. Currently, there are more or less 250 paragliding sites all over the United States territories. The sites that will be mentioned here are highly recognized and will provide pilots with breath-taking, beautiful scenery while airborne; enjoying the calm and peaceful backdrop of lush forests and vivid terrain on top view and the calm, bright, sunny weather from above.
Paragliding Sites in the USA
Blossom Valley in California is one of the many paragliding sites in the United States. To get to the actual site, enthusiasts will have to hike up to the site for 10 to 15 minutes or can choose to get there through a 4×4 drive starting at Quail Canyon Road. Blossom Valley is pretty much considered to be beginner-friendly. Landing in this area is very easy.
There is a large field in the valley, right next to El Monte Park Road. What pilots need to watch out for though during landing are the power lines right next to concrete roads and driveways. The site is considered to be a sensitive site and it is important to communicate with the local pilots in the area before taking off for flight.
Another paragliding site located in California is Herd Peak. The area is a high desert with phenomenal vistas in view with lush fields of sage and juniper. The landing in this site is on soft ground. The area is considered to be privately owned though and it is not recommended to fly on northern days and mid-day during the summer season. Local pilots must be contacted as well since site introduction may be necessary.
Paragliding with Temperate Weather
If you want to go somewhere more tropical with temperate weather, Kahana in Oahu, Hawaii may be a perfect place for you. The site is accredited by USHPA. Before taking flights here though, pilots must recently be members of USHPA and the local club in the area. There is no fee when entering the local club.
The landing site in the wide, open area is surrounded by trees and is located at the middle of the beach. The area can be found on Windward Coast that can be reached within an hour from Honolulu by private or rented car or 1.5 hours by bus. Again, it is highly encouraged to contact pilots in the local club before flying in the site.
Although there are not many pilots in the United States compared to flying regions all over the world, the influence of the sport continues to grow. Be careful though in choosing training schools and also in choosing flying sites. Always seek the advice of local pilots in the area so as to be oriented with the specific details. In choosing training schools, be sure that they provide top-quality instruction and training.
You can make sure of this by visiting the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA)website. The USHPA website lists the names and locations of training schools that have been given the authority to provide high quality instruction to those who wish to engage in paragliding. Remember that safety is of utmost importance and enrolling in a certified training school will be crucial for a safe and fun paragliding experience.