Leo Geary Paragliding, Early NZ 1988-90

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Leo face Leo Geary began paragliding in Queenstown, New Zealand, 1988. He called it parapenting. Here are his photographs (slides) from the early years, 1988-1990. See also prints and others. But first, some words from Leo.

From a letter dated June 29, 1988:

"I've discovered a new sport: parapenting. It's a parachute that's small and steerable, and rolls up into a bundle the size of a coffee can. You climb a mountain or a cliff or something, spread out your chute, take a few good running steps, and you're airborne, floating gently down to the fields below. I've tried it once. And it's got to be the most exhilarating sport I've tried. I'm going to buy one. They're not cheap: $1800 and up. It's funny that it's unknown in the states. But it's been really popular for years in Europe, especially France. It's still in infancy here."
On August 13, 1988, Leo wrote:
"It's my passion of the moment. I'm buying a parapente from a heliski guide from Switzerland. He has taken me on 7 jumps so far, showing me the nuances of the chute, and of course, the wind patterns to whom we give ourselves unto. Pretty neat stuff.

"Whew!! Got back from an amazing day of almost-parapenting. There's this gondola system that rises from the Western edge off Queenstown to a high ridge overlooking the town and Lake Wakatipu. You can get a lift pass for 14 one-way rides up. Great for us parapenters who work in town and who need adrenaline during our lunch breaks. At the top of the gondola, there's a restaurant/tourist complex. From this, you can hike 15 minutes to a ridge where good takeoffs are usually possible.

"This morning Buzz, Bruce, and I hiked up. Near the takeoff zone there was a huge cast of movie stars and their film crew, plus 2 helicopters shooting some flick called "grasshopper". Conditions on the ridge were difficult, with an irregular gust coming across at an angle. Bruce went off, but had a harmless, hilarious crash. Then I went (this was my 8th flight). I did everything right, but failed to commit, follow through, and go for it, so my chute collapsed about me. I walked up the ridge to have another go, but by this time, the wind had blown up considerably -- the stakes were raised. Buzz had a go, but his chute fell over. Bruce went again, but his fell over too. I was struggling to keep my chute properly laid out in the wind when Buzz, ready to go, went for it. OK take off. Then I went, but got blown sideways by a gust. When you're not square into the wind, you get no lift. So I dropped -- right onto a pine tree. All tangled up, it took me nearly 1/2 hour to get free. The lines to my canopy were so screwed up in knots, I decided to walk down. The wind was really blowing when Bruce tried again. He, too, crashed into a tree, but not as bad. I had torn a few small holes in the canopy's fabric. Oh, well: live a little, learn a little. Enthusiasm tempered by experience results (hopefully) in pragmatism."

Then on January 6, 1989, Leo wrote:
"Happy New Year -- and boy is it ever. I was the first to stand on the summit of Mt. Cook on Xmas morning, 4 days after getting to the park. Wait 'il you see my slides!!

"Today, at 10:30 AM, I made the 2nd known successful parapente descent of New Zealand's highest peak. I can't begin to describe the feeling of hanging above those lofty ice-clad summits, the beautiful geometric patterns of twinkling ice and glaciers below. Nor how it felt as I made a perfect landing 8800 feet below at the trailhead, a few feet away from a carload of Canadian tourists, gawking at the Gore-texted, cramponed being plumeting toward them from the sky.

"What a feeling. What next?"

Here are some slides. (These and more are on the new Wholeo CD, Love Always, Leo.) Click the small photo for a larger photo. Click the number for a description in the word list of paragliding photos. The word list also links to paragliding info by Leo elsewhere on the web.

3-353-35 3-363-36 3-373-37

lg6-16-1 lg6-36-3 lg6-46-4 lg6-66-6 lg6-76-7 lg6-86-8 lg6-106-10 lg6-116-11 lg6-256-25

lg5-345-34 lg6-356-35 lg6-366-36

lg7-157-15 lg7-167-16 lg7-177-17 lg7-187-18 lg7-197-19

lg9-59-5 lg9-79-7 lg9-89-8

lg9-109-10 lg9-119-11 lg9-139-13 Ho HumHoHum

Other paragliding pictures appear on these pages:

Memorial Flying Home Graphic Art Photographs Bicycle trip journals Descriptions

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© 1998, 2001, 2004 Caroling. All rights reserved. Last Modified: 18 April, 2012