Flyin’ high at
Express Arts Editor
eyes to the sky. Dotting our space-blue sky Thursday through Sunday will
be dozens of brightly colored gliders—what Chuck Smith of Fly Sun Valley
refers to as basically "big airplane wings."
from last year’s "High Risin" event race down to the
target. Photo by Tim Brown.
occasion for all of the activity in the air is the Annual High Risin’
Paragliding Fly-in and Dave Bridges Mountain Race held on Bald Mountain.
The four-day event begins Thursday with registration and open flying all
day. Smith expects somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 to 85 pilots to
participate. Most of the pilots hail from Western states, but he said
there are also pilots from the East Coast, Turkey and Sweden slotted to
evening will mark the kick-off party at Bigwood Bread, title sponsor for
the fly-in. Hors d’oeuvres will be served and a slide and video show
Bridges Mountain Race starts Saturday morning from the River Run Lodge at
8 a.m. Smith said the race is a "unique competition. It requires
aerobic fitness, flying ability and precision landing to win it."
starts and racers head up the mountain with all of their flying gear—generally
a glider, harness, helmet and spare parachute. The packs weigh in the
neighborhood of 40 pounds, Smith said. The pilots need to fly down all
that they carry up, except for ski poles which competitors are allowed to
use for balance while hiking.
reach the top, pilots unpack and set up their gliders as fast as possible.
This can take as little as 10 to 20 seconds, Smith said. They then fly
down as fast as possible and try to hit the landing target in the upper
River Run parking lot—in this case a giant loaf of bread from Bigwood
Bread. Flyers are penalized 30 seconds for every foot away they land from
the first one up the mountain made it there in 59 minutes. Smith said it
takes about 2 to 3 minutes to get down, so the roundtrip—for the fastest
competitors—takes roughly 1 hour and 4 minutes. Not bad for a
be DJ music and other festivities at the landing spot.
The race is
being held in memory of Dave Bridges, a champion paraglider and
mountaineer. Bridges lived in the Wood River Valley in the mid 1990s. He
was killed in a 1999 avalanche in Nepal, the same one that killed fellow
climber Alex Lowe.