Paragliding at Point of the Mountain with Utah Paragliding
I was 10 years old when I first discovered paragliding. I was in San Luis Obispo, CA on a family vacation with my parents and was busy getting chased to shore by rolling white water when I first saw what appeared to be a human flying through the air attached to the biggest and brightest kite I’ve ever seen. I immediately pointed my little girl finger in the air at it and squealed to my parents “Is that a real person??!!” They assured me that yes, in fact, there was a person strapped to a kite flying through the air above me, and that someday, I could fly one if I wanted to.
Fast forward to last year, I’m back on the beach, this time in Hawaii, on my honeymoon. On our way to the south shore of Oahu, Kevin and I pull over because we see these two men on the end of a cliff about to launch their paragliders into the open sky. We hop out of the car and stare at them, like 10 year old children, mouth’s open, amazed by these two stranger’s ability to fly. Kevin vows that paragliding will be our next hobby, and I file away a mental note that when the time comes, I’ll make it happen.
Well, that time came last month, when I was rummaging through my brain on what to get Kev for a birthday gift. After stressing for weeks, I finally landed on the perfect gift. I researched all the best paragliding instructors in Utah, and found Jonathan Jefferies, owner of Utah Paragliding. I called him up, booked an introductory lesson, and stoked Kev out with the news! Now all we had to do was await Jonathan’s early morning text telling us that the wind was perfect for a morning lesson.
Jonathan texted us at 5am Saturday morning and told us that we were good to go! We dressed in lots of layers as it was about 30 degrees out, hopped in the car, and cruised to the Point of the Mountain Flight Park. Jonathan met us in a big purple van and we were immediately at ease with him. Jonathan’s genuine friendly demeanor and obvious enthusiasm for teaching people to fly completely put the butterflies in my stomach to rest. Today was going to kick-ass!
We met up with another student, Brittnie, and headed down to the bottom of the south side flight hill to do some intro ground work with the gliders. Jonathan went over all the equipment, showed us how to safely buckle into our harnesses, and then worked with each one of us on how to properly front launch the gliders and then how to flare in order to land the glider properly. I volunteered to try the first assisted launch, pushing fear and doubt into the back of my mind, and went through the proper instructions. As soon as I got the kite in the air and got into a torpedo running position, I felt my feet slowly start to leave the ground, but only for a moment before I was flaring and landing. After a few more assisted launches, we were told it was time to move up the hill.
Each one of us had about 3 flights (about 30 – 60 feet off the ground) and made a few laps hiking half-way up the hill to get some more. Needless to say, we were all hooked. After a few more solo flights (with radio contact of course), Jonathan pointed out that the wind was perfect for us to launch at the very top of the hill. YES!!!!!
We hopped into the purple van and were dropped off at the top of the flight hill. It looked WAY higher looking down from the top than looking up from the bottom. I volunteered to go first again, and instead of being terrified that I was about to be floating over 100 feet above the ground, all I could think about was how awesome it was going to feel. Screw being scared, I wanted to fly! I also had complete faith that I was safe in Jonathan’s hands and via his radio control instructions on my sled ride down the hillside.
So without the hesitation I usually have, I front launched the glider, torpedo ran off the side of the hill, and was immediately floating in a mini thermal. Jonathan’s voice over the radio guided me through how to turn and I spent over a minute in the air turning parallel with the hillside and heading towards the landing zone (LZ). Once close enough to the ground, it was flare & land time. I gathered up the glider, and almost skipped back to the side of the hill ready to do it again! I watched Brittnie and Kev fly down to meet me, and they all had the same stoked-out look on their faces. Jonathan met us at the bottom and asked us if we wanted to do it again? Hell YEAH! We all said YES without hesitation and went for another ride.
After our 2nd long ride, we packed up all the gear and thanked Jonathan for the amazing day, vowing to come back for more. I think it’s safe to say that all 3 off us were hooked and will be returning to work on our p1/p2 pilot certifications.
Kevin and I spent the rest of the day talking about how amazing it was, to be that high off the ground, on our first day out. We weren’t expecting to do anything other than basic ground work with the gliders, and our minds were blown that we could really fly!
We’re already scheming of when to book our next lesson, fiending for time back in the air, and to learn new things. Thank you Utah Paragliding for the amazing adventure, we’ll be back for more!