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Bill Laurence Flying

Bill Laurence

How I Got Started

In December 1989 I was skiing in Verbier Switzerland, the snow was terrible. All week, as I rode the chair lift, I could see these parachutes (or so I thought) laid out all over the slopes. I wondered how they got those chutes inflated and flew off the mountain. Every time I turned my head, one would take off, but by the time I turned to look they were already off and floating through the sky.

The next day I went by the paragliding school. The question of how to take off had been nagging at my curious side. So I stopped in to ask at the school. It was the unsuccessful merging of my English and the instructor’s French that got me signed up for my first lesson.

The simplicity and beauty of paragliding was irresistible to me. After two days of lessons I returned to the states with a used paraglider. (I remember sticking my toe under the scale at the airport in Frankfurt to avoid be charged for excess baggage.)

Back home in Wisconsin I climbed up the small mid western hills countless times for those few minutes of flying time. I shutter to think of how little I knew back then, teaching myself how to fly. This was before formal schools and modern paragliders had been developed.

I often reflect back to my early experiences when teaching.

"What would I have wanted to know back then?"
"What can I do to make my students the best pilots, the safest pilots?"

Now, years later, I have flown over a thousand accident free flights. It has been my inherently cautious nature that got me through the “bad old days” of paragliding.

I have found the thrill of flying incredibly rewarding. I have flown to thousands of feet above the ground to see clouds form around me. I have found myself flying with golden eagles above the mountains of Colorado. I have flown for both hours and miles. All this, while still embracing a cautious attitude.

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