Seaside Stories

Paragliding on the North Coast

August 15, 2011 | by Becky Jensen

This is how the conversation went. “Honey, you know how I said I’d never go bungee jumping, or jump out of a plane? You know the no heights, no falling thing? I’ve changed my mind. How would you feel about paragliding?”

“Paragliding? You mean jump off a cliff?” he asked me incredulously.

“Usually yes, but I just figured out that you can launch right from the beach.”

I’ve always been terrified of heights and also falling from heights. When I climb the steps of the Astor Column I get woozy, so paragliding was never an option for me. But with a boyfriend who likes to white water raft, and live life on the adventurous side, I wanted to have an open mind.

So I talked to Brad Hill, who owns and operates Discover Paragliding along with his wife Maren Ludwig, about how paragliding works. Brad told me that in 1992 (before he knew what paragliding was) he was sitting on the side of a mountain and knew he wanted to glide off the hill, but wasn’t sure exactly how to accomplish it. A few weeks later he saw paragliding on television and said, “That’s it!” Two weeks after that, he was in a paragliding class.

He and Maren are both master-rated instructors with over 15 years experience training pilots. They brought Discover Paragliding to the coast when a student suggested they check out the beach as an ideal place (they launch from Sunset Beach just North of Seaside for many of their flights).

I told him up front that I was scared of heights and falling. “90% of people who say they are afraid of heights are actually afraid of edges or falling. If you prefer to sit by the window on the airplane to watch the view you aren’t scared of heights,” Brad told me.

For first timers like myself the introductory tandem experience is the best way to go. They launch from the beach and can take you up to 20 feet to start. If you’re OK with that height they can take you up to thirty feet. At 30 feet people usually stop looking at the ground and start enjoying the view. Your flight can go 15-25 minutes depending on weather.

Brad and Maren offer a safe environment for all their customers. They have taken up passengers from 3 years old to seniors, paraplegic and even dogs. Talking with Brad has me excited to try paragliding, and with their experience, training and passion for the sport, I know I’ll be in good hands.

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