Paragliding at Torrey Pines Gliderport
La Jolla, California

Archive Photos 1

Paragliding at Torrey Pines Gliderport (Photos by John Shupek)

Overview 2

The Torrey Pines Gliderport is a city-owned private-use glider airport located 11 nautical miles (20 km) northwest of the central business district of San Diego, a city in San Diego County, California, United States. It was first established as a soaring site in 1930 and is the home to hang gliding, paragliding, radio-controlled model sailplanes, and full-scale man-carrying sailplanes. It is listed as a National Landmark of Soaring of the National Soaring Museum, a San Diego City Historical Site (#315), a Model Aviation Landmark of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (#1 in the nation), and is listed on the California Register of Historic Places, and the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered by glider enthusiasts of all types to be the Kitty Hawk of the West. Operated by the Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California (AGCSC), the full-scale sailplanes fly only between February and April, while models, hang gliders, and paragliders fly any time the wind permits. The local Flight Director and Concessionaire maintains and enforces safety rules to protect both pilots and spectators.

History 2

The Torrey Pines cliffs have featured soaring aircraft since the 1930’s with many famous aviators earning their wings on the strong ocean breezes. Many aviation pioneers flew at Torrey Pines. Charles A. Lindbergh flew along the coast from Mt. Soledad to Del Mar in a Bowlus sailplane on February 24, 1930. Woody Brown was the first to launch from the top of the Torrey Pines cliff and come Back to land at the same place when he did so in 1936. Other notables include Hawley Bowlus, Bud Perl, Bill Beuby, John Robinson, Dick Essery, Bill Ivans, Helen Dick, Richard Johnson, and Paul MacCready. During World War II, the gliderport and its surrounds were transformed into U.S. Army Camp Callan, an anti-aircraft artillery training facility. The site has been the location of several national and international soaring records since 1946.

Location 2

The Torrey Pines Gliderport is located on the scenic cliffs above Black’s Beach, next to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. From the gliderport you can see spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and La Jolla, San Diego, California. Nearby is the Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course, Torrey Pines State Beach, Torrey Pines State Reserve, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California, San Diego. The popular trail to the clothing optional Black’s Beach begins on the cliffs just south of the gliderport.

Facilities 2

Torrey Pines Gliderport has one runway designated 9/27 with a 1,500 by 30 ft (457 × 9 m) asphalt surface. The Torrey Pines Gliderport offers paragliding and hang gliding lessons and tandem flights. Sandwiches, snacks, and drinks can be purchased from the Cliff Hanger Cafe.


  1. Photos: John Shupek
  2. Wikipedia, Torrey Pines Gliderport


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