By Sarah Sekula, published on usatoday.com
Have you always wanted to soar like a bird? David Metzgar will show you how.
“We’ve trained these birds to fly with us next to our paraglider so that people can have the experience of flying with a bird,” says the owner of Fly With a Bird, which operates at Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego.
It’s a sport called parahawking, an epic excursion that involves tandem paragliding with a well-trained raptor tagging along. It’s also a memorable way to get a bird’s-eye view of San Diego’s gorgeous coastal cliffs.
“I think people that live in an urban environment don’t get that connection to nature very often,” he says. “It’s very difficult to get that connection with a bird of prey because they’re very elusive.”
San Diego is known for having some of the most epic and consistent flying conditions on the planet.
“It’s one of the best places in the world to soar,” he says. “We have the perfect wind conditions here to do it. The sea breeze comes in and rises off the cliff and creates an endless wave of rising air that we can soar in all day long.”
Parahawking is a rare sport.
“This is the only place in the United States where you can go flying in a tandem paraglider with a trained bird of prey,” says Metzgar.
And it’s one of three places in the world to do it.
If you’d like to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, Total Raptor Experience allows guests to interact with the birds of prey through falconry lessons. Nearby you can also paddleboard, surf, kayak and hike along the coast.