Launching in Our Local Mountains Above Santa Barbara

Mountain Tandems with Eagle Paragliding are available from September through May. The take off for these tandem flights are from two different launches in the Santa Ynez Mountains, which overlook Santa Barbara, The Pacific Ocean, and the Channel Islands. The launch we choose is based on current weather conditions, both launches are well above the city with amazing views. We are able to get anyone under 260 pounds flying with us on Mountain Tandems.

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What to Expect

We use a larger canopy designed to carry the weight of two people. Each person has their own harness, and the passenger and instructor are connected together with spreader bars. The Tandem instructor sits in the back and the passenger sits in front. We organize our equipment and do a simulation before our actual launch. The instructor double checks your buckles and straps, clips you in, and we turn and wait for a nice launch cycle. When the wind is right we build energy by running together as the wing comes overhead into the flying position. We run with the wing as we are lifted of the ground, up, up, and away!

We usually meet at 9:30am, and meet again at 12:30pm for another round of flying.  These times can change depending on the weather. However, we stick to these meet times a majority of the time.

Our primary meeting spot is near Parma Park in Santa Barbara. The Eagle van parks near 736 Rockwood Drive. This is the intersection of Rockwood Drive and El Cielito Road. Please avoid parking in front of the house or mailbox at 736 Rockwood Drive. We request passengers park just down the street on Rockwood Drive, and walk up to the intersection of Rockwood Drive and El Cielito Road where you see the Eagle Van parked. The meeting location is a short 10 minute drive from Downtown Santa Barbara.

The passenger is flying in the front seat exposed to the wind. The temperature at altitude may be quite cold even though the surface temperature is warm. It’s best to prepare for cold by bringing multiple layers. Your instructor can brief you on the expected temperature at altitude the morning of the flight, and you can layer appropriately.  We would rather have you be too warm than too cold. Here is a checklist of items to bring:

  • Protective footwear, no open toe shoes
  • Pants, jeans are great
  • Warm clothing layers and a Jacket
  • Warm gloves
  • Sun Glasses
  • You may bring a GoPro or camera if you wish

Yes, we will work to fly together when possible.  Part of what makes flying so fun is getting to be up there and experience it together. There are no guarantees, but this is what we strive to do on each flight.  We work as a team to find and share thermals as we gain altitude with other pilots. When thermals are present, we climb above the area we launched, and the surrounding peaks on the Santa Ynez range. The views of the mountain range, the Pacific Ocean, and Channels Islands are spectacular.

Flying from the Mountains to the beach is a possibility on days with good thermal heights.  We need to climb in thermals to certain altitudes in the mountains in order to reach the landing zone at the beach.  The Mountain to beach flight is the ultimate experience. It allows participants to take in spectacular views flying above the mountains peaks climbing to higher altitudes before pointing the glider south for the long smooth glider over Santa Barbara to land on the sand at the beach.  The reason there is a small up-charge of $50 is the beach landing takes us more time to retrieve pilots, and get them back to the Parma Park area where we met before heading up the mountain together. You can let your Tandem Instructors know if you would like to fly to the beach if the opportunity presents itself before you launch or while you are flying.

The morning mountain tandem group who met at 9:30am should be finished before noon.  The afternoon group who meet at 12:30 can expect to be wrapped up before 3pm. You should add 30 to 60 minutes to your completion time if you end up opting to fly and land at the beach if conditions provide the opportunity to make the beach on glide.

The shortest mountain flight will be 15 minutes if no thermals are present.  There are no guarantees that we will find thermals and soar. Santa Barbara has fairly consistent flying conditions, and we are able to thermal most days that we fly in the mountains.  Thermal flights in the mountains usually last 30 minutes. Anyone flying to the beach after gaining enough altitude in the mountains can expect to be flying 45-60 minutes.

Yes, family and friends are welcome.  We appreciate you bringing at least one person along.  They often help by driving the Eagle Van down after watching you launch. They usually take photos and/or video to upload on social media to prove to everyone you flew like a bird. So please bring friends and family anytime you can.

Yes, you can bring a camera.  However, we have noticed passenger get queasy when they are focusing on filming instead of looking out across the horizon and enjoying the view themselves.  Your Instructor may be able to film your flight for you and hand over the SD card at the end of the flight for $50.

The temperature varies in the mountains. You should be prepared for cooler weather by bringing options, and simply layer appropriately.

There is no sensation of falling with Paragliding launches and flights. After being airborne for a few seconds you will realize the peace that comes from floating like a bird with the wind in your face. Participants with some apprehension are put at ease after arriving at launch and actually seeing what the flight looks like as pilots begin to launch and fly. The launch process is easy, and the landings are soft.

Yes, you need to be able to jog. With lighter winds we will run for 10 to 15 steps, and with stronger winds we can expect to be airborne much sooner.

The glider has a specific placard for wing loading. Overloading the glider can making launching and landing more challenging. We suggest a 1 day solo training for anyone over 260 pounds. We have paragliders to accommodate participants over 300 pounds on solo flights.

The Fine Print — Tandems

If we are unable to complete your tandem due to weather, you will not be charged. Participants may schedule a tandem via email. Reservations are required, and only confirmed when held with a credit card, or full payment has been made. The deposit for tandems is the entirety of the fee. Deposits are refundable only if participants do not get to fly, or a cancellations is made at least 24 hours before a scheduled tandem. Eagle Paragliding reserves the right to modify, change, or delete any aspect of the tandem programs or fees at any time. We strongly recommend that students have their own medical insurance. Most anybody can enjoy paragliding. If you don’t meet the weight requirement minimum, or have anything you feel may prevent you from having the physical or mental ability please contact us to inquire.