History of the Ranch

History of the Ranch and Aerial Paragliding

Aerial Paragliding operates on 1900 acres of privately owned land named Hay Canyon Ranch. The land was previously owned, in part, by a rancher who raised hay and cattle. Parapente USA, the first paragliding school to operate at “The Ranch”, as it became known as, rented use of the hills from the rancher starting around 1990. In 1995, the school and landowner experienced financial and legal problems that stopped paragliding activities and threatened the future of the Ranch as a training facility. Recognizing that the Ranch was both an incredible asset to the sport and a unique open space for recreation and wilderness alike, two pilots stepped forward to acquire and manage the land. Over the next several years, the new owners acquired much of the surrounding land that was threatened with irresponsible development. These efforts earned them the USHPA “Commendation” awards in 1997 for preserving a flying site and contributing to the sport.

Dixon White, the first recipient of the USHGA Instructor of the Year Award, and owner of a successful paragliding school in Arizona, combined forces with the new landowners and AirPlay Paragliding was launched at The Ranch in 1997.

Denise Reed started lessons with AirPlay at the Ranch in 1998 and the following summer, was joined by Doug Stroop. Soon after we received our P2 Ratings. That winter we visited the school in Arizona, and after 3 months, Dixon asked if we’d like to apprentice to instruct for him. After a few years of operating half the year in Arizona and half the year at the Ranch, we separated the business, with Dixon focusing on Arizona. We became Aerial Paragliding and have been operating the school at the ranch since 2003.

Tragically Dixon passed away from a health issue in May 2003. We lost a business partner, a mentor and a friend, and paragliding lost one of its greatest instructors who pioneered many of the techniques we still currently use.

Aerial Paragliding continued on at The Ranch and we’ve had many happy seasons teaching at this amazing location. Students and pilots that come to The Ranch are privileged to learn on spacious grassy hills in a serene natural setting. The Ranch is home to numerous deer and coyote, several species of snakes, as well as the occasional lynx, black bear and cougar. There are also over 50 species of birds, many of which utilize the same thermals as us. The soaring birds help show us where to find thermals and how to work them to gain altitude, though we will never match their skill, try as we might.

The Ranch is more than an amazing location for paragliding, it is also a place of peaceful beauty. We appreciate and respect it for both attributes. As the property is privately owned, it does have restricted access. Only those with a reservation are permitted onto the property, which is accessed through a gate with a sign for Hay Canyon Ranch. Please respect the generosity that makes use of the property possible and make sure to pre-arrange any visits. We look forward to sharing the wonders of Paragliding and The Ranch with you.