Americans look to the skies as our final frontier now that the sea has been ruined by some overzealous chef oversalting it. Lay your hands on the last vestige of open space with today’s Groupon: for $95, you get a Discovery Flight powered-paragliding package from Airparamo in Maricopa (a $160 total value). The package includes:
- A 20-minute Discovery Flight (a $125 value)
- An Airparamo T-shirt (a $15 value)
- A paragliding calendar (a $20 value)
First-time flyers soar through the air on a powered paraglider, shirking the wind’s sway as a motor propels them forward on a 20-minute ride with a certified instructor. The smooth, wide expanses of the Sonaran Desert around Phoenix Regional Airport drift by below as riders slowly glide across the limpid skies on sunrise or sunset flights. Before strapping in to the lightweight flying machine, students learn about takeoff and landing techniques before checking the horizon for migratory flocks of birds or hovercrafts.
Depending on their preference and the instructor’s discretion, students then wheel their way down the runway for a trike launch or bubble wrap their boots and jump skyward with a leg-powered foot launch. The propeller roars its approval as students take charge of the controls and try their own hands at smooth and strong turns, low flight maneuvering, and other aerial operations. Instructors gently stroke the motor to keep it calm throughout the flight before guiding students through a power-off landing and an anti-gravity victory dance.
Safely back on terra firma, instructors hand out a T-shirt and a calendar affixed with images of paragliders sailing above sweeping vistas. Students who wish to continue down the aviation path can enroll in a solo flight-training course or affix 297 mylar balloons to a store-bought tricycle for a more DIY flying experience.
Before 1998, Maurice Sheldon kept busy as a computer programmer, web technology teacher, and architect. But since his induction into the world of PPG (powered paragliding), "Mo" has won multiple accolades for his skills as a glider pilot, once winning third place at the USPPA national competitions. He endeavored to share his passion for flying above the desert landscapes outside Phoenix by opening Airparamo, a 1,500-square-foot paragliding equipment and instructional facility in Maricopa. He achieved an advanced instructor certification in 2003 and has helped hundreds of pilots learn to navigate solo flights and shoo away advancing rain clouds.
33461 W Trading Post Rd.
Maricopa, Arizona 85138