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ABOUT

My story...

I discovered paragliding from a friend back in 1999. I was skydiving at the time and thought paragliding sounded a little tame for my liking. A year later I decided to give it a crack anyway. After waiting a torturously long time for a young energy filled lad the day came when I could give it a try. I can still remember the feeling of turning into the lift and going UP! At that moment something deep and subconscious triggered in my mind. A storm of neuron induced synaptic connections were instantly made in a sublime moment of euphoria and electro chemical fireworks. At that moment the entire trajectory of my life altered irrevocably. In short, I was hooked. 

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From that defining moment a love of aviation was born that led me from paragliding to life as a commercial pilot with Air New Zealand and back to paragliding again. Throughout my decades long obsession with aviation I was always helping out my legendary instructor Alan Hills. At first as a natural extension of my personality but then more formally as a qualified instructor. Over the years a strong bond formed and he went from my mentor to great friend and inevitably becoming akin to family. I owe much of life's many important lessons to Alan and I learned everything I could from him. Now, after passing too soon, his 30+ year paragliding legacy continues with me.

 

I've had an amazing journey with paragliding, from coastal soaring, mini-wing flying, speed flying and cross country paragliding, I covered most of what the sport has to offer. I've done 7.5hr 100km cross country flights, epic dune flying, and adrenaline pumping acro doing loops, SAT's and infinity tumbles. I've had an incredible adventure and I bring all the lessons I've learned along the way to my teaching. The most profound teaching lesson i've learned is that it's not what I can teach you to do that matters most. It's the way I can teach you to be, that really counts for something. An attitude to flying that may just be the greatest gift of all.

Paragliding has been my place of solace through all the hard times. It's quite something to know that with a bundle of fabric and lines along with just the right wind, I can quite literally harness the power of nature and be transported into a place of awe and wonder. A place where past and future condense into the present to remind you of the wonder that's possible in every moment. 

In early 2022 after a decade of dreaming and scheming as well as watching a slow loss of paragliding sites across NZ I was finally able to purchase the HighSide takeoff at Karioitahi. I wanted to secure at least one of Aucklands greatest paragliding sites for future generations. Because paragliding has given me so much in life and taught me so many valuable lessons. It's gone far beyond the hobby that it started out as, and it's time to give back. 

 

Whats The Big Idea?

The big idea is to give back to the sport of paragliding and beyond. With the help of your tuition fees, donations, memberships, SkyWings paragliding support and volunteers, the initial goal is to set up the HighSide as a registered charity focussing on Flight Therapy for those suffering from mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Next is to place covenants on the land to secure it for paragliding and the wider community beyond my lifetime. With the help of paragliding volunteers I hope to be able to give back to the wider community through flight therapy, whether it be learning to fly or getting into the fresh ocean air on a tandem flight. One of the big goals is to provide a fenced off access road through the farm and out to the coastal takeoff zone. This is to enable ease of use for Paraglider and Hang Glider pilots as well as other community groups or people interested in rehabilitating the land. Following this the next major undertaking is to build the coastal clubrooms and mental health facilities. These will be focal points where people can gather to absorb the days adventures over food and drink, connect with nature, find healing and have a dedicated space for the paragliding communities needs.

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It's high time that the free-flight community had a dedicated space to support their love of aviation in its most pure form and having a way of leveraging their skills for the benefit of those in need.

Future objectives of the High Side are to:

- Provide accommodation facilities where the revenue goes towards developing community facilities.

- Provide a place where people suffering from depression and anxiety can come and participate in flight therapy and connect to nature to find healing in the elevated energy filled coastal air. To find support and direction with facilities to enable it.

- Provide a space for coastal summer festivals.

- Partner with the make a wish foundation to give the gift of flight.

- Provide a community space for retreats, workshops or seminars.

- Regenerate the land which has large sand blowouts on it and replant to convert the farm into a forrest park with tracks and amenities for community use.

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