When Dave Turner landed in Verdi, Nevada last spring, he became the first paraglider to complete a full crossing of the state of California—and he did it solo and unsupported. Thirty days earlier he set out from Ventura, California hiking his wing to the coastal mountains in Ojai, and flew north over the Mojave range and the Sierra Nevada mountains, hiking and flying until he completed the record-breaking vol-biv journey.
“I am definitely perceived in the flying world as the more bold or go-for-it pilot,” he said. “It’s true. It’s definitely true. That’s how I climbed too.”
Even though Turner is one of the more accomplished solo climbers in the world, he turned his attention full-time to paragliding five years ago. Now he is breaking records one flight at a time.
“I was never happy doing the standard climbs or the big climbs,” he says. “I wanted to do the biggest climbs. So with flying, as soon as I started to get good at it, I had huge aspirations.”
After a year of commuting to the Eastern Sierra from Yosemite National Park, where flying is illegal, Turner, 32, moved to Mammoth Lakes, California. Within five years of learning to fly, Turner left a climbing guide job, a national park naturalist job, and a videography job behind. He is now an instructor with Eagle Paragliding in Santa Barbara, California and a sponsored pilot with Ozone.
North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) awarded this article a Silver Prize for Special Focus Travel Articles – Print: Personality & Profiles. Click on the thumbnails to read the PDF or download the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding, March 2015 digital edition.