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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Vlog: Torrey Pines

For once you have tasted flight,
you will forever walk the earth  
with your eyes turned skywards,
 for there you have been,
and  there you will always
long to return.
—Leonardo da Vinci

Recently I was invited to visit San Diego by my good friend and Cap’n Aux blog fan, commercial pilot Barry.  When his wife Becky suggested we take a drive up the coast to Torrey Pines...

my heart leapt in my throat.

Decades before, when my parents announced a vacation to the same locale, the same feeling had stirred within me.

Torrey Pines.  The very name evokes powerful emotions deep within my soul.  For, to me, Torrey Pines was a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The USHGA (now USHPA.) This sticker on the back of a car window would get my pulse racing.
As a young teen, I was obsessed with hang gliding.  Every month, I voraciously read my Hang Gliding Magazine cover to cover.  Each issue was filled with the gallant exploits of hang gliding heroes, and gorgeous color photos of famous flying spots the world ‘round.

And none was more renowned than Torrey Pines, California.

Since the late 1930’s, intrepid aviation pioneers have been soaring the ridgelines here.  Mild year-round California weather, with a steady offshore breeze pushing up the sheer cliffs to create consistent lifting action, make for perfect soaring conditions.  In the 70’s, the hang gliding craze literally took off, putting this place on the world map.

Overwhelmed with nostalgia,
I view in awe the amazing scenery
that is Torrey Pines.

Like a giddy teen on his first date, my heart raced as we pulled into the parking lot of Torrey Pines Gliderport.

No human birds graced the air that fine day, I was sad to see.  Even so, I felt flushed with anticipation at this unexpected sojourn to nirvana.   With weak knees, I walked in a trance straight to the viewpoint overlooking the ridgeline.

Right and left, the California coast
stretched for miles.
Right and left, the California coast stretched for miles.  Hundreds of feet below, nudists the size of ants strolled clothing-optional Blacks Beach—world famous in its own right, for obvious reasons.

Nudists the size of ants strolled Blacks Beach below.

A man shouted behind me.  I turned to see, in a grass field on the other side of the gliderport building, a flight instructor barking instructions to his fledgeling paraglider student.

I chat with Gliderport owner Robin and Junior, both certified Advanced paraglider instructors.  Overcome with nostalgia, I present the shop with a signed copy of "The Last Bush Pilots." 

Surreptitiously ambling over, I watched with awe as the student practiced filling his colorful sail with lift, mimicking a takeoff.
Behind me, a paragliding instructor barked orders to his student.
The clink clink of carabiners on the pilot’s harness and the thick, salty air took me back to a time when I was a mere teen, taking my first tenuous, tentative steps out of the nest and into the air.

A boy flies his kite.  My first love, a rogallo wing.

From that first flight, I was smitten.  It changed my life, and set me on a lifetime quest to conquer my new love, the sky.

Today, I know that will never happen.
For she is my master.  My teacher.  My friend.
And my fierce, fickle, moody, unforgiving lover.
And I am her devout disciple.

This post dedicated to the loving memory of
Mom and Dad...


Special thanks to Perry & Becky for inspiring this post!
TPG Photo Gallery
Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve


Posting March 6 at 11:00 PHX!

Cap'n Aux interviews a future airline pilot Swayne Martin

Check out Swayne's blog of flight training adventures over at


Posting soon!



  1. Wow - that scenery is stunning!!! Looks like a perfect place for me and my camera to visit sometime!! I bet that must be awesome to wtch too - hang and para gliders!

    1. Ya, Mark, you really should! It's so inspiring to watch!

  2. Wonderful! Your words are as beautiful as Torrey Pines. Happy Valentines Day to you and your sweetheart!

    1. Wow, thank you Karlene, coming from u that's a huge compliment! Hope you had a great Val Day with your honey! :-)

  3. Hey Cappy......Lovely 'post' ....!!!!!.......and even "Lovelier" dedication to your Mother and Father.......!!
    .....So true and 'sights' and 'sounds'........and especially 'Smell'.......will....thrust you straight to a particular 'Time'....long if you never left.........good or bad.........!!!!

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