By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
Most every child dreams of magically flying through the air. At the Crestline hang glider launch site at 900 Playground Drive, on two Sundays a month, whole families go out to watch the hang gliders and paragliders do just that.
Some do loops while others glide along with the wind. Meanwhile, on the ground, families, adults and kids sit around and imagine themselves flying, even if they never would dare to do so. They watch and talk among themselves, while picnicking and listening to either live music from a band or from a DJ. The kids know each other from school and get their parents to meet in this casual environment as they scamper about.
Spectators bring folding beach chairs or blankets to sit on and relax while watching the paragliders do amazing aerobatics, including upside-down-loops and crisscrossing with each other, directly in front of those sitting on the hillside. The pilots request visitors to not put their chairs on the carpeted area, as that is the launch site where the paragliders and hang gliders set up, launch and land. Being on the carpet could prove to be dangerous to the pilots and visitors alike.
Every other Sunday evening this summer – upcoming dates include July 24 and Aug. 2 and 21 – the brave members of the Crestline Kooks invite those who would like to see them perform their aerial antics to come for an exciting show and tranquil sunset. The pilots begin setting up and taking off around 5:30 p.m. and they fly until just before sunset when the temperature greatly drops and the wind stops blowing. The ability to do paragliding is all wind dependent.
Hang gliders and paragliding pilots launch from Teddy Bear Peak, the U.S. Forest Service launch site in Crestline, all year long, but the Kooks are offering these special events during this summer to give the community some good clean family fun.
Corrine Overend was there recently, saying, “The experience is unexplainable; you must come to experience it and have it open your mind but bring warm clothes.” Her mother, Chris, who was there, was a majorette while in high school so her daughters had bought her a lighted baton for Christmas and she was twirling it in the evening sky as the sun was setting, saying, “It will move your soul, and you didn’t even know it needed it. Tonight was a magical event.”
Friday Night Market at Lake Gregory organizer Sara Green said, “It was like being on vacation in your own hometown, I loved every minute of it.”
Wyatt Weaver of the Crestline Kooks is again involved and recommended to everyone that they watch their YouTube video on launching off the mountain at the Crestline launch site. Teddy Bear is one of the higher rated hang-gliding launches and has been written up as one of the top 20 launch sites in the world, in both books and magazines. And watching them fly is a local activity anyone can do, even on the spur of the moment.
Since the launch site is a part of the U.S. Forest Service amenities, it is open during daylight hours only, year-round. The local soaring society maintains it and they ask that people do not litter, graffiti or smoke when visiting. If you can’t make a Sunday night flight evening, stop by the site when you do have time. People may visit the launch site any day of the year, with the best launch time in the afternoon when the warm updrafts from the ocean arrive. Most afternoons, when the weather is right, there is someone launching, but on these special Sundays they put on a free show for those who want to come out to enjoy.