CamperMate

A Day In The Sky! Para-gliding in Christchurch

Living in Christchurch these days means searching high and low for new and exciting things to keep you entertained. While we don't have much city life yet, the outdoors provide plenty of opportunity for fun. One of those options is para-gliding; free flying with an inflatable wing. I had absolutely no prior experience so after checking out a few operators, I went with ParaPro who offer a day long intro course for $280 where at the end, you fly solo from the top of Taylor's Mistake (a famous area in Christchurch). I'd seen a guy take this Taylor's flight a few months prior and was amazed to understand the guy doing it had only started learning to fly that morning! Here's a photo I took that day: ParaglidingI'd been on Daves flying text list for a few weeks and finally the day had come where the intro course was being taken, and I could make it. The day starts off by learning the basics on a hill behind the suburb Cashmere where you'll learn launching, packing the 'wing' and how to handle the it by running along the ground. It's para-gliding 101 but the cool thing is you learn by doing rather than getting bogged down with theory. photo-(83) Next it's off to Taylors Mistake (not for the high flight just yet) where it's a gradual you practice launching from both ground level and a point about 80 or so metres up (where the yellow arrow is pointing). The location at Taylors Mistake is awesome as you get the fresh sea breeze straight in your face which I learned is great for para-gliding as the air is first captured, then rammed into special air pockets in the wing. Then something about pressure, but that was beyond my  simple brains comprehension. Anyway, the breeze felt great. After graduating from the ground, it was time to walk up to the next launching site (yellow arrow) about 15 minutes walk where you are given a walkie talkie and are in direct communication with the instructors from launch to landing. The flight down takes about two minutes and you'll manage to get in one big left hand turn around 40 or so metres above the ground. This was the first taste of flying and have to say it's a pretty addictive feeling. After this I felt I had far more motivation to walk back up this hill for the second flight. After this it's time to head further up the hill, thankfully you don't have to walk and you drive back to Sumner and up the hill toward Godley Heads where you stop at a grassy area which is maintained by the local para-gliding club (the location of the photo at the top). It was now time to experience the flight from the top. I felt as though I'd learnt quite a bit over the day and having already made a couple of smaller jumps felt quite confident. The North East wind had picked up a little, which meant you could stay up in the air a little bit longer. The instructors Dave and Grey were on hand to double check all was in order before being given a 3..2..1...countdown. With some nerves I was running down the run way and slowly felt my feet being lifted off the ground to a point where you're just cruising along with the wind. While a little daunting at first, you're in constant communication with the instructors who are keeping a close watch on you. It is truly an awesome feeling being up in the air and just cruising along in the fresh breeze. Here's a wee clip of the flight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpIxHZmQX9w I would totally recommend giving at least the intro course a go if you're looking for something new in Christchurch to do. I'm glad I did. Now I'm continuing on to get my PG1 licence, well hooked! [mc4wp_form]