Learn to Fly at Torrey Pines Gliderport

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San Diego offers residents and visitors alike plenty of opportunities to participate in extreme sports. If you have a thirst for adventure, or if you want to step out of your comfort zone for a little while, we recommend taking a trip to Torrey Pines Gliderport. You’ve probably been to Torrey Pines before and noticed the paragliders and hang gliders leaving the cliffs and floating through the sky. Chances are, you’ve thought to yourself at least once, “I want to do that one day”. If paragliding is on your bucket list, it’s time to mark it off!

There are a lot of misconceptions about paragliding, and often these are the reasons people choose to remain on the ground and watch it from a distance. Hopefully after we clear a few things up, you’ll be jumping at the opportunity to fly. Many people are under the impression that paragliding involves jumping off of mountains with a parachute or being pulled into the air behind a boat with a parasail. To clarify: Paraglider pilots fly off mountains, they never jump off. Paragliders are not deployed, they are inflated and flown upwards like a kite, then eased overhead before ever stepping foot off of the cliff or hillside. Since a paraglider is already inflated before it begins to fly, the gliders don’t endure stress the way that parachutes lines do during skydiving or parasailing. If you’re thinking of paragliding, hopefully this information calms some of your fears.

Most people visiting the Gliderport choose to participate in a tandem flight. Tandem flights are a breeze, and the only thing you’ll need to be able to do is follow instructions. Anyone of any age can fly with the Gilderport’s expert instructors (when we were there, kids as young as 7 years old were preparing for flight). The instructors make it clear that they’ve made your fun and safety their top priority. To prepare for flight, you’ll show up and sign some waivers (don’t be nervous, this is normal for participation in any extreme sport). Once your paperwork is all signed, you’ll be sent out to the cliffs to watch and wait for your turn. When your name is called, you’ll head out to your instructor who will strap you into your harness. From then on, your instructor will take the reigns and maneuver you off the cliff and into the sky. The only thing you’ll need to do is sit on the harness and enjoy your flight.

Now that you know how paragliding works, it may also ease some of your fears to know that Torrey Pines Gliderport is the most historic aviation site in North America, with nearly 100 years of flying history, and it is also the largest tandem operation in the world.  If you’re planning to fly, here’s a few things to keep in mind: though the Gliderport is open 7 days a week, they only fly if the weather and winds permit. You can check the conditions here, and if they aren’t excellent, you can get notified via text message once the winds change in your favor. Since flight depends on a lot of different factors, you can’t make a reservation at the Gliderport. Flights are first come, first serve, so head out as soon as you notice that conditions are good.

The cost of a tandem flight is $175. Find out more at

Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at [email protected].

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