Paragliding: getting your second wind – Tenerife AGM 2016

Lindsay Sutton takes to the air.

NEVER mind ‘The Wrong Kind of Trousers.’

We had ‘The Wrong Kind of Wind,’ if you’ll pardon the expression.


No, not related to tummy trouble. Or to a Wallace and Gromit caper, even though our adventure might have put the wind up the much-loved cartoon characters. The truth of the matter was that our group of intrepid, first-time paragliders stood there, 6,500 feet up, on the side of a volcanic mountain, with a strong south-east breeze buffeting our backs.

We needed an in-your-face Nor’ Easter, to put the wind in our parachute-style arc of sail cloth. Then, we could ‘sail’ serenely through the air, aiming to land on the beach we could see seven miles away in Puerto de la Cruz on the north-east coast of Tenerife.


Just as we were despairing, it happened. A veer of wind direction gave us the required head-wind, and we were running down the 45 degree slope, to then get lift-off, before flying up, up and away. A rush of adrenalin, a back-of-the-mind feeling that this could not be happening, and then the supreme joy of being free as a bird. No engine, no noise. Just the swish of the wind as you soar over the forested slopes of Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain.

The now ‘Famous Five’ – that’s five women and me, the token male – undertook this seat-of-the-pants experience, and we all loved it, once we had overcome first-time nerves. Lynn Houghton led the way, being first off, I was last, and ‘Peerless Petra’ Shepherd provided some nifty footwork in between. Told to carry on running once she had lift-off – just in case she landed again – Petra looked like a cartoon character as her legs kept on turning, even though she was well under way above the mountainside. Priceless! However, I emulated this ‘feet feat,’ as my paraglider journey ended in a beach-front car park, just feet from a brand-new parked Renault.

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I may have represented the old guard, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that paragliding is just for young, adventurous sorts. Only recently, the fully-qualified instructors I flew with – the cooperative enterprise called enminube – took up a 75-year-old woman who was celebrating her landmark birthday.

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At the other end of the scale, they prefer youngsters to be 11-plus. Ideally, if you weigh more than 30 kgs and less than 130 kgs, you’re on for what many see as the ride of a lifetime – at least half an hour for an affordable 120 Euros. Well worth it too. We can all recommend it to our readers as a ‘must,’ once-in-a-lifetime experience.

NB. BGTW members attending the Guild’s 2016 Annual General Meeting in Tenerife were hosted by Turismo Tenerife and Turismo de Canarias. This article features one of the experiences/trips offered to Guild members. Views are the author’s own.


Lindsay Sutton
By: Lindsay Sutton Freelance Writer