“Hell yes! What kind of a stupid question is that?” Was my response when my paragliding buddy, Darren, asked me if I wanted to go for a fly with him last January.
We met in Edwards, parked my truck at the landing area and met Darren’s buddy looking for a ride up to the flying site. It was a beautiful blue bird morning, the kind only Colorado gets, without a cloud in site,. It was also freezing, but we were well prepared with many layers. Once at the fly site we (and by we I mean Darren) get to work spreading out the wing and straightening the rigging lines. In the mean time I got to watch the other pilot run off the side of the mountain and fly away, amping me up even more. I was ready to go! We were flying tandem, so I was in front with Darren strapped to my back. After some safety checks and protocol Darren said technically I was the pilot. I thought “well then as my first act as pilot I will let you fly and critique you”, “since we are so high above the ground, I guess this will have to be a pass/fail course”. All I had to do was run, whether my feet were making contact with the ground or not. Run until instructed to stop running
We were ready fly. We just need to wait for a favorable wind. This I quickly learned would be the most trying part of our day. Like a plane or kite you need to run into the wind, but also down the slope of the mountain. Our wind was was either still or lightly blowing from behind. After waiting for about a half hour, we figured our best chance was to try when the wind was still. I was just waiting for the word GO! When I would then pray and run like hell straight for the steep slope 20 yards in front of us. I was nervous and the anticipation was killing me. I wasn’t sure what Darren was looking for exactly. I started to grow impatient and look around, when he slapped me on the back and yelled “GO, RUN, RUN, RUN”. I felt like a husky sled dog who only job is to MUSH. Instinct kicked in and I took off, putting full faith in the system and Darren trusting that we would be airborne before the steep slope of the mountain. The slope was quickly approaching, when all of a sudden we swung out, I was no longer touching the ground, I got that feeling of weightlessness like the first drop on a steep roller coaster with butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I got the go ahead to relax, sit back in the seat of the harness and enjoy the view. It was awesome!!
We soared for about ten minutes some 1500 feet above the valley floor and I-70. It was beautiful to see the snow covered slopes all around me on terrain I have never had this vantage point to fully appreciate. To the east was Edwards and Avon to the west was Wolcott and further down, Castle Peak. Behind us was Bellyache Ridge and the northern peaks of the Sawatch Range. Below me I spotted my truck and, near that, what would be our landing zone. We came down smoothly. Running again until completely on the ground. Needless to say Darren got an A+ from me. I couldn’t stop smiling. I absolutely loved it and was on a high for the rest of the day. I loved the soaring but the highlight of the day was that first feeling of take off and the realization YOU ARE FLYING. I would return time and time again just to experience that feeling. Might have to even go back this summer yet. I strongly recommend paragliding to everyone!!
For more information check out the video, call Darren Jack at (970) 471 - 6586 or check out vailvalleyparagliding.com.
PS Sorry for the shaky video I am challenged when it comes to shooting Go Pro vidoes