I would like to follow up on the letter written by Howard Kay in support of the paragliding community.
I have been a paraglider for nearly 8 years.
My paragliding involvement began with a holiday at Laurieton in 2006. My wife bought me a tandem flight from North Brother with Lee Scott, then a local instructor.
It was one of the highlights of our holiday in the area, and it was the pursuit of my paragliding license that brought me back to the area for 10 days some 2 years later.
The flying in the Laurieton and Port Macquarie area is quite amazing, and Howard is quite right, that pilots from all over Australia and overseas come to the area to experience the excellent coastal and inland flying the area has to offer.
In doing so, we bring our families and friends – whether pilots or not – we stay in local accommodation, we eat in local restaurants, we drink in local pubs, we buy our provisions from local supermarkets – all providing a boost to the local economy.
Paragliding in Australia is quite a small sport. There are only about 1,500 PG pilots in total.
In Europe the sport is huge by comparison – I would estimate some 60,000 pilots.
Both Japan and Korea have 20,000 pilots each. These pilots are increasingly heading to Australia for flying holidays, and are drawn by the fantastic opportunities places like Laurieton can offer them.
If you want to get a slice of this growing tourism opportunity I would advise you to welcome these sportsmen and women with open arms.
I have returned to Laurieton many times to fly since I came up to do my licence course in early 2009. If places like Bartlett’s Reserve, Grant’s Head and North Brother were no longer available to paragliders I would have no particular reason to visit the area.
I can find great beaches, fishing and surfing in lots of other east coast towns. It’s the flying that brings me back – and many like me. Two local businesses, High Adventure – run by David Wainwright, and Cloudbase Paragliding – run by Chris Rogers and Mark Rossi, are well-known and supported by the paragliding community.
I know that all the locals I have met in the area over the years have been very welcoming and supportive of our endeavours. Long may that continue!