San Francisco Hang Gliding Center

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The San Francisco Hang Gliding Center

Written by Scott Messmore

Clicking through the pages of Visit-San-Francisco.com brings up dozens of great images of the city by the bay: the towering Golden Gate Bridge, the quiet woods of the Presidio and Fisherman's Wharf. The San Francisco Hang Gliding Center offers tourists a very different view of the city: overhead. Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge is thrilling the first time, but flying over it with the air whipping through your hair is a whole other ball game.

Alcatraz and the Bay from Above

The San Francisco Hang Gliding Center is located 10 miles north of the city in Mount Tamalpais State Park and provides tandem rides on hang gliders, paragliders and an aquaglider. Most people are familiar with hang gliders. Paragliding involves a parachute equipped with two seats. Take a short run down a hill and you're airborne. Toggles similar to conventional parachutes are used to steer the paraglider in flight. An aquaglider is a hang glider with two pontoons and a motor that allows take offs and landings in San Francisco Bay. No worries about losing power, you'll just glide to a soft landing on the water. The San Francisco Hang Gliding Center is the only hang-gliding outfit that is licensed by the State of California and county government to provide tandem rides. Would-be flyers take a five-minute lesson from one of the Hang Glider Center's five instructors and then strap in for a flight of fancy over the San Francisco area. As the hang gliders fly at only 2,000 feet, you'll get some of the best views around.

Years of Experience

The San Francisco Hang Gliding Center has five instructors with 11 to 25 years of hang gliding experience. Hang Gliding Center instructors have won competitions, taught in other countries and ran hang gliding companies. San Francisco Hang Gliding Center owner Bodhi Kroll has taught hang gliding in Australia and flown in Switzerland and New Zealand. Instructor Eric Miles has flown since 1989, Andrew Whitehill has flown on the U.S. Team, and Gordon Pollock won the 1986 Utah Cup and has flown more than 100 miles during one flight. During the flights over San Francisco Bay, student hang gliders will be filmed with a special camera that records the flight. The video is included with the price of each flight.

Hours of Operation and Location

The San Francisco Hang Gliding Center Tries to fly every day of the week, weather conditions permitting. Flights can last up to 30 minutes if Mother Nature is in a good mood. Flights are scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., seven days a week. Hang gliding instructors advise bringing layered clothes to combat the cold during the flight. Flights cost $275, Monday through Friday. Weekend and holiday flights cost $50 more. All flights receive a video showing the scenery, the student and instructor. Children are welcome to fly, Hang Gliding Center instructors report they have flown with people ages eight to 83. Transportation can be arranged from San Francisco, contact the Hang Gliding Center for travel arrangements.

For more information about the San Francisco Hang Gliding Center, call 510-528-2300.

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