The Most Anxious Paraglider of Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines Gliderport | San Diego, California, USA
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Paragliding Torrey Pines At a Glance
Torrey Pines Gliderport is located on the scenic bluffs of La Jolla 350 feet above Black’s Beach.
Location: Torrey Pines Gliderport, 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: (858) 452-9858
HOW IT WORKS
1. CALL – If you are not staying very close to the gliderport, I highly recommend calling to make sure they are flying. It can change throughout the day due to winds off the ocean. There is plenty to do in the Torrey Pines area if they are not flying when you arrive.
2. SIGN – You will need to sign all the legal waivers, you know like death & dying, and watch a 10-minute video. You will sign and receive a temporary flight school membership and pay the fees.
3. FLY – You will “enjoy” or fight through your anxiety to attempt to enjoy the stunning scenery. Passing by the Torrey Pines Golf Course, gorgeous mansions of La Jolla, my flight even made it down to the San Diego pier. Most flights land back on cliffs where you took off from, but if the winds die down, the instructor will land you on Black’s Beach and you walk about up the cliffs to gliderport.
Tandem Paragliding Flight – for first time flyers, your only option is to fly with an instructor, which let’s be honest, is the only reassurance that you are with an experienced flyer! Flights occur most days of the year based on weather and winds.
Cost: $175 ($165 cash)
Age: ALL AGES WELCOME!
Hang Gliding Tandem – I have not done this. Hang gliding takes stronger winds than paragliding and flights occur most often during the spring and summer months.
Cost: $225 ($215 cash)
Age: ALL AGES WELCOME!
"You must add paragliding Torrey Pines to your ultimate bucket list!"
The Most Anxious Paraglider of Torrey Pines
The first time I visited the Torrey Pines Gliderport, I believe that I was coerced by my Sister, Hayley, on our first Sister Adventure in April 2015. We were on the last stop of the trip in San Diego and staying with our Aunt and Uncle. My head kept telling me, there is no way in hell you are paragliding. Once we were on the bluffs, overlooking the take-off area, I was sure I would NEVER do it. I even believed God was looking out, because as we were watching a few pilots take off, the winds died down and there was literally NO WIND coming off the Pacific Ocean, which is usually unheard of in San Diego. My mind said, “thank you God!”.
Photo taken watching paragliders at Torrey Pines Gliderport
Somehow, I was persuaded into adding my name to the call list if the winds were to pick back up and they started flying again. I even filled out the legal waivers and paperwork and watched the 10-minute video. I’ll be honest, most of this was just a bluff to show my sister that I “would” do it.
The next day I remember waking up to check the weather and once again little to no wind...you cannot fathom the relief I felt. My family members made me call to check if they were flying and luck would have it, the answer was NO!
The second morning after I signed my life away, the thoughts in my head were, they probably won’t continue to keep the list day after day, so I will probably not get a call. My sister was also flying home to Kansas that morning. However, there was wind after we dropped her at the airport. My Aunt and Uncle told me that I should call the gliderport to check again. My response, “if I’m meant to paraglide, then I’ll get a phone call.”
After a couple days of pure agony, living in fear of a phone call, I was scheduled to take the red eye back to Florida late that night. Exhaustion from a 10 day trip had set in and I was really tired. Now this is something that very few people know, but my anxiety about paragliding was so extreme that I shut my phone ringer off the majority of the day so that I didn’t have to “get the call” to go paragliding. I woke up from an afternoon nap and felt a little ashamed that I turned off my ringer, so what the hell, I turned it back on.
Unfortunately, minutes later, my phone rang, and it was the gliderport telling me they were flying and if I was still interested that I could fly in the next 30 minutes. I’m pretty sure the amount of adrenaline that shot through my body just hearing those words was likely unhealthy. Another unfortunate incident was that my aunt and uncle overheard the phone call and got so excited to take me to the gliderport to fly!
Those of you with regular every day anxiety can imagine what I was going through. I thought I was going to throw up, because my fear and anxiety was over the top insane. As a little girl, I was scared to do just about anything new, including just being away from my parents. I hadn’t changed much as an adult, but I had tried some things like ziplining and repelling in Costa Rica, so I knew that new experiences could provide a truly exhilarating feeling! I kept telling myself that I wasn’t going to die, thinking that I might start believing it if I continued repeating it to myself.
From the drive to the gliderport, to paying for the tandem flight, to walking out to meet the flight instructor, everything was a complete BLUR. I was still in shock that I was going to paraglide. You literally walk off a 350-foot cliff with an instructor saddled to your back and only a thin parachute between you and your impending death. Kept reminding myself to BREATHE!
Photos of me meeting instructor and approaching take off.
I was surprised that I was physically able to walk out to the instructor at this point. His name was Bob, I had to look that up later, because my mind was still racing with fearful thoughts of dying. Then he began giving instructions on how we would take off. Never have I ever had such intense focus than on his every word at this point. I felt like instruction took forever, because I just wanted the entire experience to be over with already. But as you can see in the clip below, it wasn’t more than a couple minutes.