Gliding the sport of the summer


Marilyn Lau

May. 23, 2000

At the point of the mountain, the transformation from earth bound to air borne becomes reality for those who walk off the edge.

Hang gliding and paragliding are taking athletes to new heights as they soar through the air. "It's the most enjoyable flight experience," said Rich Cizauskas, a hang gliding instructor at Cloud 9 Soaring Center in Draper.

Hang gliding is flying in an ultra light glider. Flyers wear a harness that wraps around their body like a cocoon. On their back they carry a parachute as a safety measure and they wear a helmet.

Paragliding is slower than hang gliding and lower to the ground. Flyers sit or recline in a seat attached to a parachute-looking glider. They also wear parachutes and helmets. The gliders are huge kites that catch the wind and are controlled by the manipulation of cords by the flyer.

Flights can last from seconds to eight or nine hours. The longest paragliding flight covered 195 miles, said Steve Mayer, paragliding instructor and owner of Cloud 9.

Mayer and the Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association fought to preserve the point of the mountain from mining companies. UHPA is leasing the land at the point of the mountain and the FAA regulates the air space.

Todd Heslop from Ogden took his first paragliding lesson on Saturday, May 20. He said the most exciting moment is walking off the mountain.

Hang gliders and paragliders are a unique group of people, Cizauskas said. They enjoy adventure and want to live life to its fullest. They range from men and women of all ages, races and backgrounds, he said.

Although hang gliding and paragliding have dangerous reputations, they are the safest of all aviation with the lowest per capita death rate, Cizauskas said. "The air is more powerful than humans. But good instruction reduces the risks," said LE Herrick, a paraglider from Arlington, Va. "Your body controls the air craft and you must control your body." These sports require more mental skill than physical skill, said Hans Greeff, a paraglider and director of sales at Cloud 9. "If you have a good attitude, you'll be safer," Greeff said.

Hang gliding and paragliding are sports which individuals can learn at their own pace, Mayer said. An introductory lesson for hang gliding from Cloud 9 is $75, and a tandem flight is $90. An introductory flight for paragliding from Cloud 9 is $65, and a tandem flight is $90.