Paragliding takes off in Missoula


MISSOULA IS THE
PLACE TO BE FOR
HANG-GLIDERS AND
PARA-GLIDERS, MAKING
WAY FOR A NEW
BUSINESS THAT ALLOWS ITS CLIENTS TO FLY. MTN’S KATIE MILLER HAS
THE STORY. “AS SOON AS YOU GET
IN AIR, AND YOU FEEL
WHAT ITS LIKE TO FLY,
THERES NOTHING LIKE IT.”
SOME SAY MISSOULA IS
HOME TO THE OLDEST
HANGLIDING AND
PARAGLIDING SITE IN THE COUNTRY. STANDUP
I’M STANDING AT THE
TOP OF MOUNT
SENTINEL, WHERE
BLACKBIRD PARAGLIDING
IS TAKING OFF. JENNIFER ORCHARD
AND HER FIANCE CASEY
BEDELL STARTED THE
BUSINESS LAST FALL. JEN IS A MATH TEACHER,
AND CASEY’S A SMOKE
JUMPER. “WHERE WE LAND, WE
DONT KNOW. HOW FAR
WERE GONNA GO, WE
DONT KNOW, WHEN
WERE GONNA COME
BACK WE DONT KNOW. HOW FAR WERE GONNA
COME BACK WE DONT
KNOW. WELL FIGURE OUT THE
REST LATER.”
HE STARTED TEACHING
SOME FRIENDS, AND
THEY TOOK IT FROM
THERE. “I WANTED TO MAKE IT
ACCESSIBLE TO
ANYBODY AND GET
ANYBODY WHO WANTS
TO FLY, A CHANCE TO
FLY.” NOW ITS A FULL
FLEDGED BUSINESS,
WITH CERTIFICATION,
INSURANCE AND ROAD
PERMITS. CLASSES START AT THE
LANDING ZONE, WHERE
STUDENTS LEARN THE
ROPES FROM THE
GROUND UP. THEN, ITS A
DRIVE UP THE HILL FOR A TANDEM RIDE. NAT POP TANDEM RIDE
FLIGHTS CAN LAST
ANYWHERE FROM 8
MINUTES TO FIVE
HOURS, DEPENDING ON
SKILL AND THE WEATHER. STUDENT RICHELLE
DEVOE RI-SHELL DI-VOE
IS AFRAID OF FLYING. “LIKE ANY SPORT OR
ANY ACTIVITY THERES A
LOT OF RISKS, BUT THEY
CAN BE MITIGATED WITH
THE PROPER TRAINING
AND THE PROPER EQUIPMENT AND HAVING
A REALLY GOOD
COMMUNITY. AND WEVE
GOT THAT IN MISSOULA.”
STUDENTS HAVE A
CHANCE TO GET CERTIFIED TO FLY ON
THEIR OWN, TOO. IN
MISSOULA, KATIE MILLER,
MTN NEWS. CLASSES ARE OFFERED
YEAR ROUND AND TAKE
AROUND A COUPLE
MONTHS, DEPENDING ON
WEATHER AND YOUR
SCHEDULE. ##

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