MEET OUR FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS
Hello, We are the people who will safely guide you through the training process, and teach you to fly!
Chief Flight Instructor
From exploring her interest in skydiving in the early ’90s, Denise Reed discovered a love for being under a canopy, “floating through the air”. Then, while at home in Alaska, she saw someone paragliding for the first time, and knew instantly that this was something she’d been dreaming of.
Shortly after learning to paraglide in 1998, Denise decided to turn her intuitive skills and passion for the sport into a full-time occupation. Leaving behind a career in environmental chemistry, she began an instructor's apprenticeship at AirPlay Paragliding, in both Arizona and Washington and learned the dynamic art of teaching people to fly.
After becoming a certified instructor in 2000, her growing reputation and commitment to quality instruction soon saw her awarded the USHPA's 2004 Instructor of the Year. Denise also received a USHPA Commendation for her efforts to expand the sport of Paragliding and was responsible for organizing the 2006, 2008, and 2012 National XC Competitions as well as the 2010 Paragliding World Championships.
Today, as an Advanced Rated Pilot with vast global experience, Denise also holds both Advanced Paragliding Instructor and Tandem Instructor ratings while engaged as the CFI (Chief Flight Instructor) and CEO at Aerial Paragliding.
Stand alone, her teaching style and uncanny ability to efficiently deliver complex skills, puts her students at ease, and provides a wonderful learning environment for all.
Along with Denise Reed, Doug Stroop has been dedicated to paragliding instruction at The Ranch for nearly two decades. Together, Doug and Denise created Aerial Paragliding in 2003. He also earned the prestigious USHPA’s Instructor of the Year Award along with an industry commendation for his contributions to the sport.
Prior to learning to paraglide himself in 1999, toting an Environmental Science Degree, Doug was already demonstrating a prowess for teaching, working as an Open Water Scuba Diving Instructor. He then surfaced to establish the eminent pieces of professionalism and structure he’d witnessed into the then-fledgling sport of paragliding and paragliding instruction. Aerial Paragliding is this teams' result.
In 2013 Doug began to moonlight in the Medical Industry, looking to further develop his triage and personable skills, alongside his world of Paragliding. In 2019 he accomplished yet another personal goal, becoming a Nationally Certified Medical Professional, securing a Physician Assistant career, moonlighting instead as an Aerial Paragliding Instructor.
Today, Doug is a P4 advancing pilot, with an Advanced Instructor and Tandem Rating and is an acting Instructor Administrator for USHPA. His paragliding DNA has lifted him to many global and national heights, but his resonant desire to contribute to Aerial Paragliding and it’s students ensures the future of the sport receives a clean bill of health.
Matt Cone learned to fly at The Ranch, in 2006. A wonderful distraction to his corporate career, he often dreamt of levitating as a kid. It came as no surprise to Matt that paragliding soon increased its influence in his life. He has since flown in a dozen countries, competed in over a dozen paragliding competitions, and in due course has become an Advanced Pilot with Tandem and Instructor ratings.
In 2010 Matt left the corporate world and founded a non-profit organization he called KarmaFlights.org. KarmaFlights brings paragliding pilots to flying sites in foreign countries to both fly and contribute to social service projects. He's led KarmaFlights projects in Nepal, Bali, India, El Salvador, and Honduras and is a board member on TheCloudBaseFoundation.org .
“I love taking people for their first flights in tandem and there’s nothing like watching the first solo flight of a new student, that gets me going!”
Matt began teaching Paragliding at the Ranch in 2016. His active and heartfelt association with the sport and his ability to teach his broad knowledge and experience is a huge asset to the students of Aerial Paragliding and to the paragliding community as a whole.
"Everything is Working Out Perfectly"
Derek Baylor developed his taste for free flight at The Ranch in the fall of 2005. Since that time, he navigates a delicate balance between flying a lot, and nourishing his home life and encircling career as a Theatre Technical Director.
As an Advanced Rated Pilot, with a wealth of competition flying and volunteering under his belt, he has experienced numerous national and global sites, including his picks of Canada, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Norway, and Thailand. You’ll often find Derek ‘kiting’ his wing in a local park if not already flying, teaching, or mentoring enthusiastic initiates.
“ I love to watch people's minds get blown by their first experiences of free flight. Sometimes, it’s like they’ve been living in a black and white world and suddenly they can see everything in color. It’s inspiring.”
Derek indulges himself with XC~cross-country flights, using his Tandem and Instructor Ratings to spread his love and respect for the sky, to others. He remains a revered mentor for many newly accomplished pilots, helping them to lay a safe and fun course toward the greater paragliding scene.
As a humble, pay-it-forward pilot in the local and global paragliding community, Derek likes to deliver all the gold a new pilot can carry. In that light, he created and hosts the ‘Aerial Alums’ FaceBook Group for the Aerial Paragliding family, past and present so that students can continue to question, learn, and fly, more.