Gliderport History

A Tradition of Excellence

The Torrey Pines Gliderport, is the most historic aviation site in North America, with nearly 100 years of flying history. It is Southern California’s premiere location for paragliding, hang gliding, remote control models and sailplanes. The Gliderport provides a world class flying site, flight lessons, certifications, tandem flights, equipment sales, and repair services.  We seek to promote all forms of flight and to make Southern California a destination for flight enthusiasts from around the world.

The Torrey Pines Gliderport has played a pivotal role in the aviation industry of Southern California and the United States. Since the late 1920’s, sailplanes have been gracing the bluffs north of La Jolla.  Many aviation pioneers had their first flights on the cliffs of Torrey Pines.  On February 24, 1930, Charles Lindbergh had his maiden flight along the cliffs of Torrey Pines, soaring from Mt. Soledad to Del Mar and established the first gliding distance record.  In 1936, Woody Brown launched and landed on top of the cliffs for the first “top landing” in Gliderport history.  In the late 1930s, Hawley Bowlus, engineer and construction supervisor of the Spirit of St. Louis, began soaring the cliffs with his own sailplanes the Bowlus gliders. 

The Gliderport was instrumental in the development of several new technologies including the first Robinson variometer (1939), which was a sensitive instrument used to determine the rate of climb or sink.  John Robinson’s Zanoonia sailplane, built in 1939 was the first aircraft in the nation to use spoilers (air brakes) on the wings, which are still used by aircraft today.  Bob Fronius invented the first aircraft parachute recovery system which was flight tested at the Gliderport in 1947. 

In the late 1960’s the first radio controlled model airplanes were designed and flown at the Gliderport.  Then in 1970’s the first hang gliders graced the bluffs of Torrey Pines, which became the most influential flying and development site for the modern era of foot launched aviation.  The Gliderport promoted paragliding during its infancy in the mid-1980s. 

Today the Gliderport hosts several forms of aviation which, include radio controlled model aircraft, hang gliders, and paragliders.  It may be the only site in the world where these aircraft all share the cliffs in harmony. 

The Torrey Pines Gliderport is also proud to distribute these quality products:

Hang Gliding:
Flight Instruments: