FEELING WEIGHTLESS, SOARING over places foreign and familiar, taking in all the sights from a bird’s-eye view ith the wind blowing through your hair and the sun on your face — it’s no wonder most kids wish they could fly. The closest most of us ever get to that sensation is on a plane or in a dream, or maybe through a virtual reality simulator. But a small group of people in Marin experience the real deal, running off the west side of
Mount Tamalpais with their hang gliders and soaring high over the coast before eventually landing on the sands of
Who enjoys hang gliding? Mill Valley resident David Beerman, president of the Marin County Hang Gliding Association
(MCHGA), drives up to the launch site three to four times a week. A 1970s Popular Mechanics article on the activity
caught Beerman’s attention and inspired him to build a glider from instructions published in the magazine. A few
other club members started out like that, too. MCHGA treasurer Phil Ray is another frequent flyer up on Tam; his
wife, Judy Cunningham, doesn’t go gliding anymore but is a world record holder in the sport — the first woman to
hang glide a hundred miles. “It took about five hours,” she says. “I started to get bored up there.” In 2017 MCHGA had
135 hang gliders and 61 paragliders on the roster. “Every year there’s usually a turnover of about 20 people dropping
out and 20 new people joining,” Beerman says. Most but not all members are men and middle-aged, although one
glider is 17 and another is 80.
UP, UP AND AWAY
Mount Tam’s elevation helps get hang gliding locals airborne.
BY KASIA PAWLOWSKA • PHOTOS BY RON POZNANSKY