Paragliding is a popular recreational activity that has become recognized world wide as a competitive sport. With this sport parachuting and hangliding play a dual role. The paraglider is an inflatable wing, which is motorless, and created by utilizing a rip resistant nylon which is secured in place to protect the pilots harness. The pilot rests in the harness and launches in to flight by increasing their feet speed and jumping off cliffs, inclines, mountains or hills. Steering occurs by shifting weight and applying brakes which change the rear edging of the wing and direction. Recently visitors and Washingtonians had an opportunity to see the excitement this activity brings to the sporting arena.
In Lake Chelan, a small town located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington state a week of the Paragliding World Cup events took place, July 17th-24th. Picturesque Lake Chelan is known as one of the premier hangliding and paragliding locations in the world. The area is recognized for strong thermal updrafts which make for a fantastic ride. Located in Chelan county, this beautiful 55 mile, narrow lake and town sits at the base of the launch. Lake Chelan is the largest natural lake in Washington state, and is approximately a three hour drive from Seattle. Participants for this event arrived by plane, train, and automobile filled with intense excitement. Also, a popular tourist resort, during the month of July, daytime temperatures reach 90 degrees putting summertime activities in full swing as well.
More than 125 of the worlds best paragligers took to the skies for this event, beginning with a launch off of Chelan Butte. Pilots flew over the wheat fields and east across the Columbia River. Participants were able to fly a straight line out and return, or if they were feeling more adventurous could participate in triangle courses. Views from the top of Chelan Butte are spectacular. Competitors from 6 continents participated testing their skills on aerial routes up to 80 miles in length, and climbed up to altitudes of up to 10,000 feet.
This world cup is the first on Americal soil since an event in California’s Owens Valley in 1992. The stop in Washington state was the second meet out of eight to be held during the season. Early registration cost was $350, regular registration fee is $425. This is a fee which participants feel is well worth it considering the thrill ride they encounter. Preparation is intense, and pilots leading up to the day prior to the competition were visible practice flying an average of four hours. During flights, interested parties are able to track the activities of participants as well as other pilots and learn of their progress through the tracking website http://chorlton.homeip.net/spotmap. The website updates every fifteen minutes.