In 1930, less than a decade after Torrey Pines began to attract flight enthusiasts, Charles Lindbergh graced the area with his presence. He took off from Mount Soledad, gliding toward the juncture of land and sea, before landing in Del Mar. Thirty years later radio controlled model airplanes were swooping through Torrey Pines, and hang gliders had joined them by the 1970s. Modern day visitors are able to go tandem paragliding or tandem hang gliding. There are also classes geared toward thrill seekers who want to glide by themselves. Novices can take paragliding classes to prepare themselves for a solo flight, but those who want to hang glide independently must be at the intermediate level before taking classes at Torrey Pines Gliderport.
This is an extremely safe place to try flying for the first time; the instructors are all certified by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, and the Gliderport reports fewer than one accident every ten years. Ultimately you need to trust that your pilot knows what he or she is doing, and these pilots have a ton of experience. While you cannot reserve a spot in advance, visitors are encouraged to show up between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. any day of the week. Often a flight begins within 40 minutes of the time a person arrives. A tandem paragliding experience costs $175, while a tandem hang gliding flight costs $225.
After 20 minutes of gliding above San Diego, you may want to grab something to eat. Stop by the Cliffhanger Café and watch people taking off right in front of you while you enjoy your meal. If you look out at the ocean, you might just catch a glimpse of a gray whale or dolphin. The coastal setting makes this a truly spectacular place to enjoy a meal while taking in the scenery.