Tag Archives: adventure sports

Mr Flying Man


I grew up on the hill above Forresters Beach, and one of my most vivid memories from that time is watching hang-gliders cruising through the clear blue sky while I played on the sand. I never grew up dreaming of flying, but those memories obviously had an effect on me, because when I got older and awesomer I started paragliding.

Thirty years on, I was looking down on that patch of sand I used play on, hundreds of metres beneath me. My first flight from Crackneck to Forries was mindblowing, and it was sweet to watch over the town of my youth while doing something I love. It was even better to be up there with great mates.

I’ve spent more than 40 hours flying that site over the past few months, and it gets better every time I leave the ground. More often than not, landing on Bateau Bay Beach attracts a throng of awe-inspired wellwishers who can’t believe what they’ve just seen. Usually, a plucky child will push himself to the front of the delighted crowd and say, “Mister! Mister! Are you Superman?”
“Almost, kid,” I’ll say while packing up my wing. “I’m a paragliding pilot.”

Here are just a handful of the thousands of exquisite photos I’ve taken during my airborne adventures above the Central Coast.


Romeo of the skies


Another day in Bali, another two-and-a-half hours souring through the big blue above Nusa Dua with my buddies from Cloudbase Paragliding. And I’ll tell ya, making it through a few hours’ of glorious flying was a bit of a surprise because I’ve been married to my toilet for the last couple of days and there aren’t too many brascos up there.

The conditions were brilliant and we were all able to get awesome height, towering over the cliffs of Pyong as we surfed the wind. There were fewer kamikaze Japs, more space, and plenty of opportunities to check out the reefs and temples from a few hundred metres above.


When the wind picked up I was forced to take refuge on the beach – an exciting battle in itself, as I crawled the last kilometre at a speed slower than a Sydney Traoins rattler, before finally touching down just metres from where a beautiful young lady was swimming. Her tanned body seemed at one with the waves, and her face looked like something you’d kiss until your lips became numb and dropped off.


I packed up my wing as quickly as possible and sauntered over to the girl, who was visibly impressed by my dramatic entrance. I tossed my helmet onto the sand, ripped off my shirt, stepped into the azure water and splashed over to the bikini-clad babe.
“Yeah, I descended from the heavens just to say hello to you,” I said nonchalantly. “No biggie.”


The lass was understandably impressed, and there was an unmistakable electricity between us. She looked unbelievably good in a two-piece that made no attempt to cover her astonishing body, and the way she smiled at me told me there was a future for us. We kissed briefly and she told me to meet her at that same spot at 8pm.


When I returned to the shore, a cluster of my fellow flyers gave me a standing ovation and offered high-fives and thumbs-up. I can’t recall how many called me a legend or the best dude they’ve ever met – but it was certainly in excess of five. I tried to explain that it was just another day in my life but they wouldn’t have it, showering me in free beer and chairing me off into the sunset. I spent the evening being hailed a hero by all who met me – I’m over here with some of the greatest paragliders in Australia, but to them, my achievements at the beach were all that mattered.


I went back to that special spot at 8pm, flowers clutched in my hand, an excited look on my face, and love in my heart. And there she was, the girl of my dreams, kissing a chubby Indonesian bloke in the silvery moonlight. He looked at me, his ceremonial headdress draped over one eye, and laughed. I was crushed. I threw the flowers onto the sand and trudged into the night, alone with my sadness.


My Cloudbase chums of Rich, Al and Jed took me out for pizza to cheer me up, where they assured me that I remain an inspiration to them. But their words were hollow and the pizza tasted sour. I’d found and lost love in the most dramatic way possible, but as I gobbled that last slice of pepperoni pizza and wiped sauce from from chin (pizza sauce, I should clarify), I realised that it wasn’t all bad – because life’s always good when you’re paragliding.