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Pilots will flock in for festival of free flight

Lakeview will once again play host to some of the top pilots in the region for the annual Festival of Free Flight July 4-5.

Referred to as the umpteenth annual Festival of Free Flight as the exact year it started is unknown, since the 1970s hang glider and paraglider pilots have traveled to the basin around the July 4th holiday. Taking advantage of the weather, winds, scenery, and easily accessible launch sites, Lakeview is renowned as one of the most attractive places for hang gliders and paragliders to fly in the world garnering the nickname “Hang Gliding Capitol of the West.”

The two days of events will include several competitions with prizes at stake for pilots, including a spot landing, glider dash, and cumulative distance cross-country contest.  Plenty of free flight opportunities and social gatherings will also take place for pilots and spectators, set to the backdrop of the 4th of July festivities.

The event has drawn as many as 300 pilots in the early 90s, with anywhere from 30 to 100 expected to participate this year. Multiple easily accessible launch sites for pilots will have skies filled over Paisley, Lakeview and near Tague’s Butte along Abert Rim during the weekend.

Prizes for the top pilots include cash awards, gas cards from Lakeview’s Chevron and Shell Gas Stations, food coupons from Green Mountain Bakery, Polar Bear, Burger Queen, Jerry’s Restaurant, Pioneer Saloon in Paisley, Tall Town Café, Hunan Chinese, and discount coupons from the 39er Store. The first 25 pilots that register will also receive a swim pass to the Lakeview community pool courtesy of the Town of Lakeview. Additional sponsors include True Value, Howard’s Drugs, Pro Build and Bob Nyquist.

Pilots are fully insured and waives any liability to property owners under the US Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) if landing on private property, taking tremendous care not to damage areas. The pilot motto after landing is “Leave the area cleaner than you found it.”

Registration for pilots is $35, which includes social events, drivers, weather updates and site reviews. To acquire a registration packet contact the Lake County Chamber of Commerce at 541-947-6040, or stop by at 126 N. E St.

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