Riding the wind in Newport

A paraglider rides the wind over Newport’s Nye Beach, just off the bluff from Don and Ann Davis Park. Yaquina Head and its majestic lighthouse can be seen in the background. (Photo by Michael Heinbach) Josh Norris, of Corvallis, carries his paraglider up the walkway at Don and Ann Davis Park after enjoying a flight over Newport’s Nye Beach. (Photo by Steve Card)

NEWPORT — The Oregon coast, with its diverse natural environment, is a playground for people engaging in a wide variety of activities. One of those is paragliding along the coastline, and Josh Norris, of Corvallis, was recently enjoying some time riding on the wind over Newport’s Nye Beach.

“We flew maybe two hours yesterday on the north side of Yaquina Head. That’s where we often fly,” Norris told the News-Times on Friday, Oct. 2. But on this particular day, he was launching from the bluff overlooking the beach at Don and Ann Davis Park in Newport.

“It’s a tricky launch,” Norris said of his takeoff spot at the park. “When you fly here, you fly really close to the cliff edge. It works better when it’s strong, but I come here whenever I’m alone. I started flying here a couple years ago because my wife and kids love to play at the beach, so this was an easier sell to them.”

When gliding over Nye Beach, “I like about 10 miles per hour (wind speed) out of the northwest,” Norris said. “We can fly it stronger than that, depending on how the terrain tolerates it. The problem is there are no wind meters, so you have to get used to interpreting the local (conditions).”

When asked what would constitute a wind speed that is too strong for paragliding, Norris said, “Anything over 15, especially here. There’s not much tolerance from getting drug or messing something up, hitting a car or a person. I’m a pretty conservative pilot, so I try and keep my eye out for certain things.”

Norris has been paragliding for the past seven years and is a member of the Cascade Paragliding Club (cascadeparaglidingclub.org), a group that has members all over the state. People can access the group’s website to learn more about the sport.

Norris also has created a number of videos while flying. “I have a lot of great video from flying around the Newport area,” he said. “It’s all on my Vimeo page — search Josh Norris and click on ‘people,’ I’ll be the first one that comes up. You can see a lot of great Newport videos, including when I soar here (Nye Beach). I often get above the height of the hotel so I’ll run the length of the hotels.” 

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