First Flight – The Gliding Saga, Utah

First Flight - Sondra's first ride with Steve. In a tandem over the hills of Lehi Utah. She came back grinning ear to ear.

It was Spring by the time we hit the last leg of our 2012 winter tour. We stopped in the Salt Lake area and parked overnight at Cabelas in Salt Lake City. Sondra went shopping the next day and I went hunting for a part I needed for the Super Camper. On the way I noticed a kite shop called Cloud 9. Since I had been wanting a stunt kite to carry along, I decided to stop in. Inside I did find a neat little stunt kite and took it with me. But I also found something more. I discovered Paragliding.

I’ve always wanted to fly and just the possibility of an affordable means to do so, using a wing compact enough to fit in a backpack, got me excited fast. I decided to take a tandem flight with an instructor the next day for about a hundred dollars. I wanted fly and I did. It was breathtaking. I thought it would be scary. It was, but only till Steve and I took off. Once I realized I was floating in the sky, suspended as from a cloud, I was instantly hooked.

Back at the trailer I praised the flight, telling my wife how amazing it was. I told her it was not that same fear as being afraid of heights, because once you’re up there you don’t feel at all unstable. You have control, can glide, gain altitude and land at your pleasure. Sondra started getting annoyed because I kept going on about it. She told me she WAS NOT going to fly. So,  good and kind husband that I am,  I said OK and shut up about it ;). Soon we headed down the road towards Nevada and I let it go, simply saying I might still have to learn on my own.

That night we camped by the Bonneville Salt Flats. In the evening after some him-hawing around, Sondra suggested that maybe she should give it a try. I laughed at her, but it was a good laugh. The next day we booked her a tandem for that evening and drove all the way back to the training hill outside of Salt Lake City. Sondra flew and when she landed she was grinning, giddy and could not stop telling me how much she she now wanted a paraglider of her own. It was so cool to watch her.

We were both hooked now. The ability to carry a wing with us on our travels, soaring and photographing. Even the ability to add a small motor if need be, to go to areas where wind currents might not favor us. There’s more to it than that of course and we plan to learn about that soon because now that we’re home, we can’t wait to get back down there and get certified. That’s something we hope to do later this year. It costs about a thousand dollars plus gear. So for now we just watch videos, look at photos and dream of free flight. Both of us.

With that I better get back to work, pay some bills and make some prints, because we want to go flying. Soon… Gav

For Photographers. Tech Notes…

Technical Notes: Canon MK2, 70-200mm 2.8 V1 @ f8, 1/100sec, ISO320

While this may not make the list of my top art releases, I’m rather fond of it. Not just because it brings back memories of flight and not just for my wife getting up there and flying, which I’m proud of too. It was a big step.

I like this for the space and the strong composition. I was able to use the bold lines of the Utah mountains still dotted with snow as a solid base for the subject. The clouds worked out well with nice white against a blue evening sky and an even bluer gliding canopy that looks nearly black down around Zone 2.


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