by Yasmina Platt
Copyright 2021. All rights reserved!
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine – April/May 2021 issue
Who needs an engine or an airstrip when you have mountains, a lifting force, and empty fields? That’s what paragliding and hang gliding are all about! And you can fit the paragliding gear in – or attached it to – the recreational vehicle of your choice. What a deal!
My husband, Jared, and I were on the last leg of our summer “workcation.” We needed an overnight somewhere between Salt Lake City and Torrey, Utah. Richfield looked like a good place, but we never thought it would be as awesome as it turned out to be.
After parking the motorhome at a local campground, we took the Jeep to explore the area. We found Red Hill Hot Springs on the side of a mountain for some good sunset views and relaxation. To our surprise, a few paragliding pilots in their camper vans had the same thought. We all ended up talking camping and flying while enjoying the warmth of the natural hot springs. We had a very enjoyable evening.
Turned out, the mountains around Monroe and Richfield have a lot of flying potential. The pilots were there for the “Red Rocks Fall Fly-In,” an annual paragliding meet-up at the Monroe Rodeo Ground Landing Zone (LZ). They offered us a ride in the morning and, of course, I could not pass it up.
So, the next morning, several of us drove up to Cove Launch, about 12 miles southeast of Richfield, at the top of the Thompson Basin road. The launch spot is a favorite for both seasoned pilots and students. It offers a vertical drop of over 3,000 feet to the LZ. A ridge finger extends miles out above Sevier Valley, creating soarable takeoff conditions in three different directions. We were told some pilots manage to fly for hours and up to 10,000 feet from Cove.
It was great fun! The wind conditions were not ideal to gain or sustain altitude, but we still enjoyed a few minutes of free flight.
One of these days, when we stay still in an area, we need to invest in a paraglider (ideally a tandem and maybe a powered one to offer us more options) and take some lessons. This stop served as confirmation that it would be great to have a flying vehicle in the motorhome so that we don’t always have to rely on rental aircraft while we travel.
For more information about flying around Utah, visit www.airtrails.weebly.com/utah. Fly safe and fly often… no matter how you get up there!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yasmina Platt has been with the international airport planning and development consulting firm AECOM since 2016. She also writes an aviation travel blog called “Air Trails” (www.airtrails.weebly.com), in addition to articles on pilot destinations for Midwest Flyer Magazine. Pilots can locate articles Yasmina has written by going to www.MidwestFlyer.com and typing in her name in the search box.