Friday, March 04, 2016

Costa Rica Paragliding

After flying at Jaco for a couple of days, and attempting to fly at Caldera one day, we headed south down the coast a couple of hours drive to Dominical. This site is on a ridge about 3 km inland from the beach. It's fairly heavy forest in between so you have to make sure to leave the ridge with enough height to make the beach. Not many good options for landing in between. If conditions are reasonable you can also fly a lower ridge beside the beach. I almost like this better than the upper ridge because you're beside the ocean. Usually you can fly the lower ridge the few kilometers back to Dominical and then we could land on the beach within a few hundred yards of our hotel. We've had good conditions and it's been no problem to stay up for an hour or more, which is usually enough for us. With two flights per day, I've been in the air about seven hours in the last four days.

On the ground I am much more interested in photography than Shelley. However, when we're paragliding that reverses - Shelley takes lots more photos and GoPro video. When I fly I'm too focused on the flying. I either don't carry my camera, or I don't remember to use it. In addition, usually Shelley likes me to launch first so I don't get a chance to take photos or video of her taking off. And I often like to fly longer, so I don't get to catch her landing either.

Shelley prepping at Dominical launch

Shelley and Dominical launch

Shelley flying

Dominicalito beach

Shelley headed for our hotel

This afternoon we flew a new site called Hatillo. It's about 10 km north of Dominical. It's a lower site with not much ridge lift and the landing possibilities aren't great so you need to find thermals. After botching my first two attempts I launched and got some lift right away. That was good but then I started to sink out and I figured I'd have to head for a landing. But I managed to find another thermal and get back up. From there I could reach another spot where I could see the vultures circling. That got me up to cloud base with enough height to make the glide all the way back to Dominical - my first real cross country flight. It was a pretty tame one because I could have landed on the beach almost anywhere so it wasn't too committing. And landing on the beach near our hotel was familiar. Here's the flight on Doarama:

I've really been enjoying the flying. It's been a little challenging (for us) without being too scary. (Although a couple of minor collapses got my heart rate up a little.) We've been getting good long flights. The scenery is fantastic. Flying over the tropical forest with the birds and landing on the beach is great. The only drawback is the heat, especially standing around in the sun at launch. But once you're flying you get a steady wind and it's fine.

Unfortunately, the Dominical launch is in the middle of a large real estate development and it will likely be closed soon, to be turned into someone's mansion :-(

For more photos see all 10 as a slideshow or overview

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