Sunday, February 25, 2024

Paragliders populate local skies during U.S. Open

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OMAK – Dozens of colored canopies descended on East Omak Park last Thursday, July 11, as pilots in the U.S. Open of Paragliding completed one of several passes from Chelan Butte as part of the five-day competition.

Chelan resident Matt Senior, meet director and organizer, reported from the landing zone that the East Omak leg was the third that the group squeezed in between what he called “weather days.”

“We had a great pass out to Wilbur on our first day,” Senior said referring to the opening glide on Sunday, July 7.

“The next day was a weather day,” said Senior, “then we had a nice pass up to Oroville two days ago (Tuesday, July 9) and yesterday was another weather day.”

The Chelan event drew 123 pilots representing 25 countries to the U.S. Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association-sanctioned competition

The competitors registered at the Chelan Senior Center on Saturday, July 6, followed by their first practice day. The launch site is from DNR property on Chelan Butte described by Senior at “the best place in the world for paragliders.”

The pilots gathered every morning at the Chelan Falls Park soccer fields at 9 a.m. to load into vans for the trip to the four launch sites on the Butte. DNR sensate site requirements restricted activity to the launch sites only and each vehicle had to carry a shovel and fire extinguisher in the event of fire.

The daily take-off window opened at 11:30 a.m. after weather conditions were monitored for acceptable flying.

“On light wind days each take-off will work depending on the time of day and orientation of the sun,” the instructions advised.

“Dust devils are very common on the Butte and all pilots must take extreme care when getting ready and especially once they are attached to their gliders.”

The Chelan Falls Park fields were the designated bail-out landing zones for pilots who had to abort the assigned task or route for the day. The competition extended through Saturday, July 13, where awards were presented.

Paragliding competitions are held all over the world with scores listed on the website airtribune.com that posted the daily results of the Chelan leg of the U.S. Open. As for the Open, Chelan was one among eight sanctioned competitions that included sites in Groveland, Fla., Ridgley, Md., Ruch, Ore., Big Spring, Texas., and Casa Grande, Ariz.

U.S. Open of Paragliding - Chelan 2019 Results - Top 3

Open:
1st Place: Donizete Lemos, Brazil, Glider: Ozone Enzo, Sponsor: Volirium
2nd Place:  Nicholas Greece, USA, Glider: Ozone Enzo3, Sponsors: KAVU, KEEN, TAKA, OZONE, HORNCREEK HEMP
3rd Place:  Owen Shoemaker, USA, Glider: Ozone Enzo3

Women:
1st Place: Bianca Heinrich, USA. Glider: Ozone Zeno, Sponsor: Bozeman Paragliding, Abcam
2nd place:  Patricia Garcia de Letona, Mexico, Glider: Ozone Zeno, Sponsor,    TRAFIMAR
3rd Place: Lindsay Matush, USA, Glider: Advance Sigma10

Sport:
1st Place, Kelly Myrkle, USA, Glider: Ozone Delta 3
2nd Place,  Dustin Pachura, USA, Glider: 777 Queen 2, Sponsor, Dragonfly Paragliding
3rd Place, Lindsay Matush, USA, Glider: Advance Sigma10

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