My magic carpet ride got me to Australia from Florida. It was a hang gliding journey of seven years to many sites around the planet. Along the way, I quietly passed over the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountain ranges of America, neighbourhood soccer games in Brazil, banana plantations in Costa Rica, above Cape Byron’s Lighthouse, and then finally touching down at the historic Bald Hill of New South Wales, Australia.
The greatest product from all of my nomadic years of professional waterskiing and then hang gliding and has been discovering this region, called the “Illawarra”. Often, advanced hang glider pilots launch from a mountain and fly “open distance XC”, attempting to fly as far as they can away from the take-off area, not knowing which open area they will finally land in. It’s a romantic concept, really. -Like “hopping a train”. By applying this approach to life, I was fortunate to end up somewhere so brilliant.
In December 2000, I hopped off of the airplane in Sydney, not knowing anyone in the Illawarra region, but thought I’d try a summer hang gliding and surfing in this area. Of course, I fell in love with it all, but soon had to kiss it all goodbye, just as new lovers do, when they hold different passports. Unfortunately, I couldn’t claim de facto with “Coledale Avenue”, I had to be more specific. Bye, bye Australia…see you next summer. This long distance seasonal relationship of only summers at Bald Hill continued for four years, until John Howard and friends granted me a “Distinguished Talent” permanent immigration visa. My international hang gliding success had finally paid-off big, with a chance to become an Aussie. Thank goodness Australia loves its sport.
Why move the USA “Warren Windsports” business across the world away from incredible friends and family?
What really makes Bald Hill a world-class flying site?
The local onshore breezes, combined with the escarpment of the National and State Parks, equate to smooth laminar air, like getting “freshies” at the snow field. This is the environment ideal for a tandem instructor that loves sharing his passion. And on a special day, an experienced solo hang glider pilot can drive up to the hill, have an ice cream from the vendor, set up and fly north 10 miles, then fly back to south, about 40 miles, then turn around and fly to the launch area landing right back on top, a couple of hours later! -Then fold the glider up, put it on the car and drive to a café or maybe to catch a wave somewhere.
The above reasons made it an easy choice to take on the seriously hard work required to get here and get the business set up. The opportunity now exists: you can easily tap into the knowledge and experience (over 5000 tandem flights) gained and arrange for a tandem instructional flight for yourself, a friend, a family member, or a client. It truly is a Magic Carpet Ride, flying side by side with an instructor in the Royal National Park. The experience lasts for 25 minutes, but remains forever, if you know what I mean. Spotting marine life hundreds of feet below while peacefully navigating through the sky becomes a beautiful memory that is vividly and forever burned into your own internal hard-drive. As the tandem flight progresses, the “co-pilot” has the option to step-up the pace and learn all about aerial manoeuvres and control. It is their choice on how they’d like to go about the flight. It’s all about the client.
If you’ve read this far, but aren’t convinced, I hate to lose you because you think it’s still going to be too scary, loud, or intense. For the record, everyone is always instantly surprised how quiet and controlled hang gliding actually is. It’s like asking someone to dance: the hardest part is…thinking about it.
Source: Curt Warren, Warren Windsports
Pictures provided and copyrighted by Warren Windsports - Curt Warren and Carol Binder
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