Paraglider high above the Pacific Ocean catches a warm summer updraft created by sandstone cliffs at San Diego’s famous Torrey Pines Gliderport.
The world-famous Torrey Pines Gliderport is possibly the coolest, most awesome place in all of San Diego. Hang gliders and paragliders float silently in the sky above rugged sandstone cliffs and the blue Pacific Ocean, painting a rare scene that few will ever forget. Here are some photos that I took this morning.
I arrived too early–the wind necessary to sustain gliders, I learned, doesn’t usually kick in until about 11:30. No worries. There were so many interesting things to photograph, and the weather and scenery were so pleasant, I just moseyed around and sat here and there and let each moment unfold.
Please enjoy the following photos and make sure to read the captions for more detailed explanations!
The Torrey Pines Gliderport was established in 1928 and is an active aviation facility. It’s also a favorite place to enjoy incredible natural scenery and perhaps get a bite to eat.
Looking north along the San Diego coast from a point above Black’s Beach. A solitary figure looks out at the mighty ocean from atop a weathered sandstone cliff.
A hang glider is moved on the grassy hill near the Gliderport. Students, instructors and experienced gliders alike must wait for a good, steady wind.
While I wandered about I made a cool discovery! Atop the hill beside the Torrey Pines Gliderport, the experts of Sky Falconry were getting ready to teach a morning class. Anyone can fly a bird of prey!
Several hawks trained to fly and return on command have a chance to stretch their wings before the class of falconry students arrives.
Taking flight indeed! A beautiful raptor flies past its handler. Beyond, the blue Pacific Ocean stretches to the horizon.
The Sky Falconry class has begun and I take another photo, then leave these good people in peace. There is much else to see…
A view looking south from the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Someone stands on the lifeguard perch that overlooks the beach below. La Jolla Cove and the end of Scripps Pier can be seen in the background.
Some activity! Someone wearing a bulky but lightweight paragliding harness sets out across the grass from the patio area at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.
Students have begun to learn the basics of paragliding, including how to safely launch. Not enough wind to take to the air yet.
A quick photo through the Torrey Pines Gliderport’s casual patio area, with picnic benches. I spotted an outdoor grill and pool table nearby!
The Giderport’s well-stocked Cliffhanger Café has yummy hamburgers . . . and jaw-dropping views just steps away!
A short hallway that leads into the Torrey Pines Gliderport store features many photos of past hang gliding and paragliding adventures.
Just south of the Gliderport’s launch area, a bench makes a perfect place to experience sun, ocean and sea breeze.
A forlorn concrete monument stands near the dirt parking lot, south of the Torrey Pines Gliderport. On one side a tile mosaic depicts a sailboat and gliders in the sky.
On the opposite side is a corroded historical marker. To honor the spirit, ingenuity, and enthusiasm of the pioneers who flew gliders in the 1930’s at Torrey Pines.
Another look north at beautiful high cliffs of eroded sandstone. The coastline melts away into San Diego’s North County. No gliders yet!
A couple of surfers prepare to descend the cliff to Black’s Beach far below. For those who don’t follow the established trail, it can be a very treacherous descent, and one occasionally sees rescues on the local news.
A raised outdoor eating area at the Torrey Pines Gliderport is the perfect place to watch all the aerial action. But still too early…not enough wind…
The Torrey Pines Gliderport bills itself as America’s premier flight school. One can enjoy tandem paraglider and hang glider flights with an expert instructor.
The breeze has picked up a bit. More students are trying out their equipment on safe land. A happy dog is loving life.
A paragliding student learns the ropes. In the distance you can see the equally famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, which hosted the epic 2008 U.S. Open.
More spectators have arrived and the nearby grassy hill has become more active. The falconry class is still underway.
Almost enough lift!
Carrying all the paragliding gear back up the hill. When actually gliding, if too much elevation is lost, some gliders will land on the beach. Then the climb is much, much worse!
Just a cool shot of a paraglider spreading her wings.
Finally! The breeze is pretty good now! The first paraglider is ready to launch! Lift is provided by wind that pushes up against the long cliffside.
And he’s off, among the birds!
A tranquil ride above and through the beautiful blue. Paragliders wind their way back and forth along the cliffs, catching the updraft.
A photo that provides a hint of why the Torrey Pines Gliderport is such a special place.
A fantastic ride through the sky!
Another paraglider has joined the slow aerial dance. The lower part of his body is enclosed in a cool-looking pod harness.
Paragliding above Black’s Beach, a favorite destination for surfers and Southern California nudists!
Just gliding along.
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