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Pilots take to the skies for Festival of Free Flight

July 9, 2014 by

Pilots flocked to Lake County from as far away as Maryland to participate in the Umpteenth Annual Festival of Free Flight, July 3-6.

Utilizing five launch sites scattered across Lake County and northern California, hang glider and paraglider pilots arrived to partake of the friendly skies. Taking place since the 1970s, the annual event showcases the flying conditions that make Lake County one of the most sought out locations in the country to soar.

Several competitions were held during the multi-day event, including cross-country cumulative flight, speed runs, and spot landing contests. Some chose to show their competitive side, but most simply wanted to enjoy the experience of flying among peers and the birds.

High winds on Friday, July 4, limited much of the flying opportunities, but by Saturday afternoon conditions had calmed down to near perfect flying conditions to maximize flight times. Utilizing Hunters Hot Springs in Lakeview as the main landing zone, most pilots chose to fly from Black Cap above Lakeview, with four other takeoff locations readily available for distance flights.

One of the key attractions for the area is not only the number of launch sites available, but also the accessibility of each takeoff point, making it easy to setup equipment and coordinate drivers for retrieval.

For results pick up the Wednesday, July 9 edition of the Examiner.

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