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Hang Gliding
Hang Gliding in Pacific City Oregon

The sport of hang gliding in Oregon owes much of its presence due to the excellent winds and dunes of Cape Kiwanda at Pacific City, Oregon. During the summer, instructors are often seen teaching children and seniors on the low dunes in front the Pelican Pub and Inn at Cape Kiwanda. More usually, the students are practicing on the north side of the Cape - just a short hike from the Pelican Pub and Inn at Cape Kiwanda on the south side. In the spring and summer, when the winds turn northwest, the Oregon Hang Gliding School, begins to train students wishing to attain certification in the sport and provide first time experiences for the curious.

Pacific City, Oregon and Cape Kiwanda has been central to development of the sport of hang gliding in Oregon. The consistent winds and smooth winds have made it a meca for enthusiasts for nearly 40 years. In the pioneering years, there would often be over 50 gliders sharing the dune at any one time. In those simpler times, less regulation, less sophisticated instruction, the casual atmosphere and novelty of the sport, brought out the overly ambitious. The training, equipment and culture has all matured significantly since then. It is now safer then most coastal adventure sports. To commemorate these beginnings, the Kiwanda Single Surface Hang Gliding Festival occurs annually in June. Fun spot landing contests and dollars-on-a-pole grabs makes for interesting entertainment.

A common misconception is that a first hang gliding experience means launching off a steep high cliff. In fact, hang gliding is learned much like sking. One starts on flat beach progressing to gentle and low bunny dunes. This allows the student to gradually rise a couple feet and eventually several feet above the ground, each experience always feeling comfortable, attainable and safe. Very fit instructors run along aside the student pilots providing encouragement and corrections. Who is qualified to try this? Anyone that can move your own body weight in a sprint several times is able to take introductory lesson.

The Oregon Hang Gliding School provides the visitors of Pacific City an excellent introduction to hang gliding. Students arrive from all over the nation to learn. The progress is incremental and based on prior fundamentals. Prospects for foot launched flight meet at 10 am at the Stimulus Expresso Cafe located at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda. Its possible to lodge, wine and dine only minutes from the training dune.

Participants are given an hour long ground school - flying techniques start here! After a brief break to gather up water, sunblock, and sunglasses - the students hike to the dune, don harnesses and practice in a flight simulator. The students assemble the glider and learn control techniques on flat beach. Lighter participants often get air right here! The group progresses to the lower slopes of the dune to experience "moon walking". Your weight diminishes with each step and eventually you feel your bare feet leave the sand. You are flying! The remaining lesson allows one to hone the skills to greater proficency, never feeling out of control or uncomfortable.

Pacific City Visitor's Guide thanks John Matylonek, a USHPA certified instructor for the contribution of text and pictures to this page. ou can also call him at 541-913-1339

PS. Check out Pacific City Hang Gliding Picture Collection


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