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Learn to Fly... And Return to Earth

Alternative to extreme, some sporting ideas for winter

(page 3 of 5)

Paragliding

“We want to keep people up in the air as long as we can.”

If you would rather go a tad more serenely into flight, paragliding might be your sport.

While Chuck Smith and Fly Sun Valley can train pilots to become certified paragliders, their main focus is piloting people down from Bald Mountain’s 9,000-foot peak in a tandem harness.

With services offered year-round, Smith says, there is good flying to be had in the winter, beginning in January and lasting through March. All you need are the right conditions (winds less than 20 miles per hour, and good visibility) a quick lesson and a trip to the top of Baldy, and off you go.

Tandem flights from numerous points launch off Baldy when conditions are right to make just about any day a good day for flying.

“We don’t need wind to fly, but a little bit helps,” says Smith.

Up to six technically-trained paragliders can take a guest from the mountain down to the base, Smith says, with the flights— depending on the conditions—lasting anywhere from 15 to 75 minutes.

“We don’t want to go down,” he says. “We want to keep people up in the air as long as we can.”

They also cater flights to “the tastes of our customers,” he says. “Flights can be leisurely and smooth,” or flights can be a little more “rowdy” for those who want to engage in more than simply floating down. When they do, the pilots will perform mild air diving maneuvers, mostly spiral dives, which allow the tandem to pick up more air speed.

Fly Sun Valley also has cameras mounted to each glider, providing in-flight photography for their customers. Reservations are recommended, although flights can sometimes be scheduled on the spot, if there is an opening. >>>

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