In 1992, Phil Dietro's younger brother Stu became enamored with his friend's paraplane, prompting him to learn how to pilot the motor-powered parachute. In an old fashion bout of sibling rivalry, Phil too wanted to master the strange flying contraption, traveling with Stu to Santa Ynez Airport for his first flight. As gusts of wind rearranged his hair, and impressed birds beckoned him over for high-fives, Phil became hooked, later seeking further training from the paraplane's inventor, Steve Snyder.
A year after his first flight, Phil's newfound hobby inspired him to establish Inland Paraflite, where he currently schools fledgling aviators in an airborne classroom high above the Apple Valley desert. His exhilarating flight courses instill cloud-curious students with the knowledge to man a dual-controlled Powrachute Pegasus, which reaches speeds of up to 32 miles per hour—the same speed at which the sound of soft rock travels.
If you want to fly, you have to start on the ground, at least momentarily. That's where Atmosphere Paragliding School comes in. They train students to become expert paragliders over several months. In a series of classes, instructors teach everything from very basic 30-foot launches to complex understandings of flight including thermalling and micro-meteorology. During the first two months, the school provides all of the equipment until students are ready to progress to the intermediate level. And, for those want to kiss the sky before they take the plunge, the school also offers tandem paragliding lessons that allow riders to take in sights such as the cliffs of Palos Verdes, while the instructor does most of the work.
When you need something to do on your day off, visit High Adventure Hang Gliding and Paragliding in San Bernardino and indulge in a day filled with fun and adventure.
Parking is plentiful, so guests can feel free to bring their vehicles.
Soboba Mountain's steep face and large, flat landing area make it seem as though it were made for the sport of speedflying. The adrenaline sport is similar to paragliding, but—as the name implies—is much faster. Speedfliers launch themselves into the air from the top of a mountain and zoom down its face attached to a parachute-like wing that they steer. But unlike paragliders, they remain close to the slope the entire way down to preserve their momentum and keep the journey exciting.
Speedfly California introduces total beginners to the sport with a variety of comprehensive classes, too, plus traditional paragliding classes. Some run for a full day, while others, in which students earn their P2 and M1 solo flying ratings, might take around a week. Each session is taught by an experienced speedflier and gets participants into the air for hands-on practice.