Life on the Road, Part 2 – Idaho and Utah

On the road to Boise

On the road to Boise

Ok, so I’m already in Massachusetts; I arrived May 2nd. But before I get ahead of myself, there was a long drive in between San Francisco and here.

I planned to stop by the site called Slide near Reno before heading further east, however I chose instead to visit my brother in Boise. Tough choices we pilots have to make. It was a beautiful drive nonetheless, and it was great seeing him.

Point of the Mountain Paragliders

Point of the Mountain’s Gaggle Galore

After a night in Boise, I headed out to Point of the Mountain, Utah. Excited to arrive before sunset, a splattering of airborne paragliders greeted me along with weening conditions. This would not be my chance to fly. Sadly, I think that meant my streak of great flying ended…or did it? The next day Felix and I headed out to fly a place called Inspo or Inspiration Point (though not the one in Bryce). Wow! Inspo! What an amazing and beautiful site. The mountains rise up behind launch and snow capped peaks greet you in every direction. Intimidating in ways, but beckoning me to soar.

The mountains tower above Inspo

The mountains tower above Inspo

Arriving at launch, the wind was stronger than expected, but the cloudbase was tauntingly high and Felix was still optimistic that we’d XC to the point, indicated by the many hand warmers that we broke open. With our gliders preflighted, and hand warmers tucked cozily in our bar  mits, it was time to go. There was quite a crowd gathered to watch us too. See how wonderful our sport is?!

I launched first, and with the wind was able to ridge soar easily and climb a few hundred above launch. Back and forth, back and forth, waiting for a good thermal to blow through. Eventually I caught one decent enough to circle in and climbed a few hundred feet more before either losing it or it dissolving in the wind. The thermals that I encountered were small and disjointed, and very frustrating to deal with. And don’t get me started on the sink. Felix launched a few minutes after me, with the help of some bystanders—the wind had picked up and he had a no-stepper launch.

In the air he found the air difficult too. I slowly began to sink out and head toward the LZ. Slowly Felix did too. Far out front I finally found bits of lift and climbed a little, but again the thermals were not easily cored. A couple times I thought the sink would get the better of me and force me to the bailout LZ. Felix finally caught something decent and climbed out. As I headed to the primary LZ—overcoming the sink, yay!—I watched Felix sky out. Go Felix! A few burbles on the way to land but nothing significant. I guess no XC for me, but one of the best LZs ever with a huge expanse of green, fluffy grass.

On the ground I broke down alone hoping Felix was off to the Point. As I zipped up the bag, unbelievably I spotted him over the LZ. What? Why? He’s supposed to be at 14,000+ feet and on glide. After landing he said the thermal took him to 9,000 or so but then broke up and the strong sink got the better of him too. Oh well. All in all, a great day, but not the flights we were hoping for.

The following day I hoped to try the Point again, but the conditions were weak. What kind of “most flyable site” is this? Maybe my streak really had ended. So I take off for Colorado and leave Utah for another day.

Advancing Confidently in the Direction of my Dreams

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreamsand endeavors to live the life which he has imaginedhe will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
~Henry David Thoreau

I never could have anticipated where my life would go when I set off from Virginia on my own for unknown shores almost exactly four years ago. In 2011 I took a risk and stuffed my car for a journey to San Diego. No job. No friends or relatives. Just the dream that I’ll forge a home in a city I believed I could love. Looking back, I cannot believe I did that, but the decision led to so many amazing opportunities and adventures. I’ve enjoyed nearly every moment here, and best of all, I found my passion for hang gliding.

Now, three years of flying later I have accepted an irresistible opportunity to fly hang gliders in Massachusetts—and get paid—made possible by the generosity of a friend who secured additional work for me to actually earn a decent living. Might I actually live the hang glider pilot’s dream and balance work and play?

It’s been quite hectic the last few months as I prepared and planned, and waffled back and forth on this decision. It goes against modern western culture’s norms to quit a job to go do fringe activities—more so to drive across the country to do them. Encouraging my decision were my lovely hang gliding friends—ahem ahem peer pressure—but also the chance to visit and spend time with my parents, and the opportunity to work with the knowledgeable Rhett Radford to learn the ropes of the flight park business.

Quest Air!

Last month I made a near overnight trip to Quest Air in Groveland, Florida to earn my tandem rating. Not only did I have a blast (how could you not at Quest?), but I also did in fact receive my tandem rating, had great flights, and hung out with the motley crew. You can watch a quickly edited video of my experience.

Look for me at Hang Glide New England in New Braintree, MA. I will be flying there from May through October.

The Adventure Begins

So here it is. Two days before I set out toward a new era in my life, for new unknowns, fresh adventures, and with the mission of experiencing more of the amazingness of life. Oh how difficult it was at first to even consider leaving behind a stable job with a consistent income, benefits, and a habitual life. But oh how incredible the opportunities will be. I’ll be visiting friends in the Bay Area, finally checking out Point of the Mountain in Utah, possibly flying the gorgeous Slide Mountain near Reno, making my way to Lookout Mountain Georgia, and hopefully getting the chance to experience some sites in Virginia, my home state.

Planned Route

My Planned Route


And it seems I’m not alone. Wolfi and Jonas are taking off on another U.S. continental trip with a full toolbox of cameras and adventures planned. Hopefully they can drum up new support, greater appreciation, attract new pilots, and perhaps even quell some misconceptions of hang gliding. Their project is called The Rhythm of Flight and you can help support them by donating on Indiegogo. As a plus, they will drive a biofuel and solar powered camper!

The Flying Gypsies are “a handful of…young energetic Hang glider pilots aiming to revamp the sport of flying, ” proving that the sport is “not just for old folks anymore.” They are primarily east coast pilots who hope to similarly criss-cross the country chasing “the freedom of flight.” Support them as well if you can.

OneSkyProject starts their journey in South Africa to share their “dream of flight.” It’s not exactly clear what their goals are, but the more of us there are carrying our passions around the world, the better the future of our sport will be.

Join us in our quest to share our passions, soar the skies, explore the beauty of the world, and perpetuate the awe inspiring nature of our sport. Whether you support us by following our blogs, donating funds, liking our posts on social media, or reposting our videos and photos, everything helps. We’re all united by a common love.

And I can’t wait to fly with many new folks in New England!

Happy flying!