Flying down Stratton isn’t just for skiers and snowboarders
By Craig Panarisi
Checking the weather this past Friday, I couldn’t help but to notice the weekend was going to be another beautiful one! Sunny skies, warm temps and light North winds. Quickly I was online and posted the great weather forecasted, “…light north winds at Stratton and gondola will be running, let’s fly, see you there at 10am…”
Sure enough, at 10am paraglider pilots from across New England started showing up at the gondola. By noon, 10 of us were standing on the top of Upper Standard waiting for the wind to be just right. Seeing the colorful gliders spread out ready to be flown not only was a treat to all who rode the gondola on Saturday, but watching as we launched one by one was thrilling!
Although conditions were light, meaning we were not going to be flying very high, just getting some of the first flights ever off of Stratton was worth it! Not getting very high in a paraglider is relative! We all were able to launch off of Standard and glide out over the resort and Sun Bowl several thousand feet up! Sweet!
The photo above is me launching then turning and heading over the Ursa lift. Once over Ursa, I caught a little lift and began making gentle 360 degree turns to stay in the rising air. Allowing myself to drift with the wind, I was mesmerized while circling over lower Black Bear and the tree tops just below me. A few more drifting 360’s later, I was directly over the newly stumped trail Sunbeam and could clearly see my fellow pilots landing in the Sun Bowl parking lot. Outrageous!
Landing in the grass and unhooking from the gliders, the pilots toothy smiles told it all. This is the life, there is nowhere better to be. Flying down Stratton isn’t just for skiers and snowboarders!