Hang Gliding Lets You Fly Like an Eagle
Visitor, October, 2000
who has ever dreamed of flying can live the fantasy by taking a
hang gliding lesson in Marin County. San Francisco Hang Gliding
Center (SFHGC), has opened Mt. Tamalpais State Park for commercial
tandem hang gliding and paragliding instruction. Before SFHG came
on the scene, going hang gliding in the area meant owning a glider
and knowing how to fly. Now owner Bodhi Kroll teaches novices on
a special tandem, or two-person, hang glider.
gliders fly over Mt. Tamalpais, 10 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge,
over redwoods and homes, and land on the north end of Stinson Beach.
Some have described the landing as so soft it was difficult to say
when the flight was over.
says he was a child when he started having vivid dreams of flying.
He also enjoyed bird-watching and was fascinated by their flight.
He was a teenager when he saw a hang glider and recognized that
hang gliding could allow him to live his dreams.
has been flying for about 17 years. He learned the trade by working
for a hang gliding company in Australia. His students have included
an eight-year-old boy and an 83-year-old man. Kroll explains that
only 120 people in the United States are certified to perform tandem
hang gliding, which takes more training and a special exemption
from the Federal Aviation Administration. SFHG currently employs
six instructors, all of whom are certified by the United States
Hang Gliding Association.
at Mt. Tamalpais, the glider - which is collapsible for easy transport
- is assembled. Slide rods in the wings keep the glider stable,
although steady winds can appear to be tugging the glider from the
pilot's hands. Solo hang gliders average 145 - 150 square feet,
and tandem gliders are almost twice as large at 210 - 220 square
feet with a 37-foot wingspan. Each student is fitted with a full-body
harness, attached to both the instructor and the glider for safety.
addition to hang gliding for beginners, SFHG offers paragliding
- described as an experience more like floating than flying. A paraglider
employs a parachute that is laid out on the ground. The pilot takes
a few steps and the chute opens and lifts him or her into the air.
A paraglider can initiate turns, but a hang glider can dive and
climb and dip.
believes the majority of the public - even those who are afraid
of heights - can learn to love hang gliding.