I finally flew here, just six long months after I arrived on the island. It has been difficult to pin down the paragliding group out here, seeing as everything is posted in Japanese. But I finally decided to put my best foot forward and get to it. I was able to track down the local school which caters to motor pilots, and they pointed me in the right direction.
The local folks out here are wonderful, but their website is 1/10th of Wind Lines. Like I needed to tell you all that! The immediate thing one notices about the local group was that their average age was around 65, and I mean average! Most were above this, with a few young folks in the middle. At first I couldn't figure out why this was the case. But after flying this week, I can see clearly why this is the case. Our wonderful launch sites back home in Hawaii require a pilot to pack 50 or 60 pounds of equipment, throw it on their back, and hike a good 15 minutes up the side of a mountain (ok hill, I like to embellish things a bit). Our local sites here in Okinawa, except for one, allow you drive up to the site, walk "DOWN" a few stairs, and voila, you are there. The other launch requires a 5 minute carry of gear on a horizontal hiking trail, which is not too difficult even for me. Then if that isn't spoiling me, after you land on the beach, there is a van waiting to bring you back to launch (they charge 200 yen, about $2). With that being said, they have some issues to address. The site I flew at today required you to lift your wing overhead with little or no wind (sort of like the top of Cactus), and then when you get it overhead you move forward towards a four foot fence, and you pull your brakes and hopefully pop over. It's just that simple. As I watched the local pilots do it, they made it look so easy. But then again they all weight about 100 lbs wet. They seemed to take off vertically. I will include some pics. Enjoy, and I will keep you all posted. I miss everyone in Hawaii. I hope you all get to land at Kahana beach with enough sand to keep your gear dry. According to Thom's last post, this may be harder than it seems.
Click on the link below and you can see the wonderful house I was able to rent. We are blessed.
I can't begin to tell you all how I miss Hawaii, I nearly cried while watching Hawaii 5-0 the other night. In any case, I have met a great bunch of local pilots and hope to fly as much as possible. If anyone heads to Japan, look me up!!! US Naval Hospital Okinawa.
Signing out! Hilo Ken