HISTORY OF PARAGLIDING ON MAUI
The history of paragliding and hang gliding in Maui is intertwined with the broader development of these sports globally. Here’s a brief overview:
1. Early Days of Hang Gliding: Hang gliding, which predates paragliding, saw a surge in popularity in the 1970s. This was a period of significant development and innovation in the sport, making it safer and more accessible. Maui, with its ideal wind conditions and stunning landscapes, naturally became a popular location for hang gliding enthusiasts.
2. Introduction of Paragliding: Paragliding, a newer sport, evolved from hang gliding in the late 1980s. It offered a more portable and less expensive alternative to hang gliding, making it accessible to a broader range of people. The sport quickly gained popularity in areas with suitable flying conditions, including Maui.
3. Maui’s Unique Geography: Maui’s geography, with its coastal cliffs and mountainous regions, provides excellent conditions for both hang gliding and paragliding. The island’s trade winds and thermal activities create ideal flying conditions that are attractive to pilots of all skill levels.
4. Rise in Recreational Flying: In Maui, both sports became popular recreational activities for locals and tourists alike. The breathtaking views of the island from above, including its beaches, volcanoes, and lush landscapes, made it a sought-after destination for aerial sports. At present there are very few hang glider pilots remaining on Maui as almost all have switched to paragliding.
5. Safety and Regulation: With the growing popularity of these sports, safety regulations and professional training have become increasingly important. This includes the establishment of schools and clubs that offer training and certification for new pilots, as well as guided tandem flights for tourists. Each year Paraglide Maui flies about 2000 tandem flights for tourists and locals, and trains about 30 new solo pilots to earn their P-2 paragliding license rating. Due to our ability to fly 12 months of the year, and the ideal learning conditions and facility, many people come from the mainland and from the other Hawaiian islands to get their paragliding P-2 license at our Polipoli Flight Park.
6. Current Status: Today, Maui is considered one of the premier destinations for hang gliding and paragliding. The island hosts a community of enthusiastic pilots and offers some of the most scenic flying experiences in the world.
This overview provides a general sense of the development and current status of paragliding and hang gliding in Maui. The specific details and milestones in this history might be further explored through local clubs, historical records, and the personal experiences of long-time flyers in the area.