Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Come fly with us -- at magical Torrey Pines Gliderport

San Diego venue plays host to international adventurers

A gorgeous, golden afternoon brings out gliders galore to the famed Torrey Pines Gliderport north of San Diego, Calif.


WITH THOUGHTS of Peter Pan -- or Sally Field in "The Flying Nun," -- I gazed, spellbound, as
 Folks bring chairs and watch the gliders.
a 40-something man took flight.
Our venue was the world famous Torrey Pines Gliderport, an historic flight park on the ocean's edge, founded in 1928.
My "glider guide" was my partner, Bruce Keller, who has more tricks up his sleeve than a Las Vegas magician.
Safely on terra firma, these gliders expressed elation at their experience.
"I had no idea you knew so much about gliding," I gulped, as we walked to the edge of a cliff and he began to explain wind currents and sail plaining, describing all the necessary gear:  reserve chutes, harnesses, helmets and more. He knows his stuff.
I KNEW Keller spent years navigating the azure Pacific out his back door. He snorkles, scuba dives, sails and swims.  This fella understands wind, so I should have guessed he also has a handle on flying through the air with the greatest of ease.
  The Torrey Pines Gliderport is a wonder to behold, a sentimental and spectacular favorite spot of locals and a sought- after tourist destination.  Keller has been a fan for years and is proud of its international appeal.  On our
 The Torrey Pines cliffs could be dangerous, but
skilled gliders navigate them artfully.
several visits together, we heard French, Italian, German and Japanese, along with the usual English and Spanish spoken in San Diego environs.
    We watched as certified instructors coached people from their twenties well into their seventies in the art of flying high by the clouds.
I GOT A  crash course in paragliders and hang gliders. Hang gliders have solid wing structures and an aluminum frame, creating a V-shaped wing that resembles a stealth bomber. Paragliders have soft wing structures -- no internal frame.  Once inflated, they take on an elliptical shape.
TORREY Pines, a gorgeous, much photographed and well used scenic area in north La Jolla, is also a favorite of golfers -- you've seen televised tournaments there if you're an aficionado.  The park is also beloved as a fundraising venue.  Many films and commercials have been shot there, because of the stunning scenery.
 I watched in wonder as advanced gilders soared over the cliffs and ocean, sweeping magically, then eventually landing in one piece, with a graceful downward or sideways motion. The art is in moving their bodies to bend with the wind and navigating the way they want to.
Gliders float high above the Pacific, and see wonders beneath and all around.
Wind conditions, of course, play a major role in the success of the adventure. Skilled gliders learn how to determine when the wind is best for prime soaring.
I THINK of myself as a fairly gutsy gal, but I fear I haven't the courage to soar with the hawks.
For now, I'm content to watch and sigh, eyes heavenward, as the Torrey Pines gliders show me their stuff.
I'm no cliff hanger, except as an appreciator.  And count me in as a fan of the Cliff Hanger Cafe at Torrey Pines Gliderport, which serves up yummy sandwiches, soups and salads.
If you're braver than this reporter, you can hire certified instructors at the venue, or give a gift
A glider lands with grace and ease at Torrey Pines
Gliderport, which has been beloved since 1928.
certificate to a loved one.  Call 858 452-9858 or go to
GLIDING BUFFS are fit, trim and healthy looking.  And if you're looking for a romantic adventure with your sweetheart, you can fly tandem. What a thought! Keller could nudge me to consciousness if I fainted from terror.
 Landlocked for now, Cookie may
some day soar with the gliders.
Could Nick and Nora come along?
I long for the courage to brave it, for it looks like a wondrous pursuit -- the clouds close enough to touch, birds, whales and seals to enjoy, and the Pacific shimmering below. This past spring, we saw the migrating grey whales here, enroute to the Baja to give birth.
For now, I'll do my flying in a 747. And my sailing in a boat.
 But maybe sometime I'll glide! If not in this life, then in the next!

"Uncle Cog," Harry A. Cosgriffe, atop
his favorite horse at his Crazy Mountain ranch.
COMING SATURDAY:  A tribute to a special uncle, as we attend his classic Montana send-off memorial.  "Uncle Cog" was beloved by many and a weekend celebration to honor his memory included music, prose, flowers, food, dancing, reminiscing, tears and laughter. That's this July 20 at
Then we look at a family's challenge and rewards of nurturing a baby born with a birth defect. It truly takes a village! Plus more travel tips and photography pointers. Tune us in Wednesdays and Saturdays and remember to explore, learn and live.

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