Take flight: Spots to paraglide on the Eastside
BY CELINA KAREIVA
The principle behind paragliding is simple: You drop from a deathly height, suspended by an arc of fabric, using the physics of wind to carry you atop the clouds. The adrenaline-generating sport has garnered a following on the Eastside where mountains and hilly terrain are plentiful.
“Every mountain in the world has been flown,” says Steven Wilson of Parafly Paragliding in Issaquah.
Wilson, who’s run his business for seven years and been flying for 21, said his first experience was as a bystander in Utah. If you’ve ever spotted the colorful stripes of fabric in the sky, you’ll know watching can be nearly as thrilling as the sport itself.
“It’s incredibly liberating,” adds Wilson. “It’s not as adrenaline-intense of a sport [as you’d think]…You drift from cloud to cloud and on a good day, can cover long distances riding the currents. It’s quite serene.”
Instructors suggest a tandem flight before trying lessons. But, dares Wilson, it’s hard not to get hooked. Read on for more information about paragliding on the Eastside and the packages available to flyers.
425-605-0433 | paraflyparagliding.com
Parafly Paragliding promises views of some of Washington’s most beautiful terrain. Flights launch from Issaquah’s Tiger Mountain, sometimes soaring as high as 18,000 feet. “It’s not like bungee jumping or sky diving where it’s all about the thrill,” says Wilson. Services vary from tandem flights with certified instructors, to full lesson plans for those interested in eventually solo piloting. “People who’ve done it never call it scary, they always describe it as tranquil.”
206-679-1002 | paraglidewashington.com
The oldest school in the state, PGWA not only leads flights, but also sells equipment. A nylon paraglider acts as a wing suspending the flyer. Though professionals can soar for hours, most introductory trips last little over a half hour.
206-387-3477 | seattleparagliding.com
Man’s dream of flying might be as old as humanity itself. Paragliding, say enthusiasts, offers a shot at the impossible. Like other Eastside facilities, Seattle Paragliding has both tandem and instructional services and launches from Tiger Mountain (after a shuttle takes you up).