June 22 through June 29, 2014 will provide a time frame for residents of the area to enjoy the sight of 150 paragliders winging their way through courses of 40-50 miles in length from Woodrat Mountain to the many landing zones that mark the way.
According to Mike Haley, the Meet Director and Event Organizer, this is one of the largest paragliding competitions in the USA and draws competitors from all around the world. Like race car drivers, participants gather points all year to qualify for the US team that competes on a worldwide basis.
Many people are familiar with hang gliders that have an aluminum frame inside a shaped sail that typically has a pointed nose and a V shape as seen from above or below. The paraglider is essentially a "parachute" wing, has no frame and is fairly elliptical as seen from above or below.
Similar to the parasailing that is seen on water sites where the participant is pulled by a boat to get lift enough to sail, the paragliders provide their own lift by leaping into the air off Woodrat Mountain and hoping to catch the wind currents that will propel them to a successful ride.
The Applegate Valley provides a good location for this type of competition from the geography that provides unpopulated areas to the wind currents that provide excitement and draw on the skill of the pilots.
In the past several years this event has grown in popularity both with participants and spectators. This year there is a wealth of great places available to watch the action. It is no longer necessary to take your life in your hands and park along Hwy 238 to watch the paragliders scattered like so much confetti against our blue skies.
Matthew Sorensen, owner of Longsword Winery, insists the best viewing area is from the patio where you can watch the launch off Woodrat Mountain to the landing in the field at Longsword, where the landing pilot is greeted with a glass of wine!
Red Lily Winery greets the people who choose to watch the action and Fiasco Winery has an enthusiastic greeting and warm welcome for both participants and spectators. Owner Dave Palmer has been a paragliding-hang gliding participant for the past 30 years.
Pick one of the beautiful wineries in the Applegate Valley and enjoy the show!