Home to the annual Ozone Caribbean XC Challenge, the Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean Sea on the island of Hispaniola (the other side of Hispaniola is Haiti).
The ‘DR’, as it is commonly referred to, is a mountainous country with terrific flying during the European Winter. Pilots have been escaping to fly here during the wintertime for years, and there are even a few local pilots and a club.
In 2006 Ozone Sponsored the first Ozone Caribbean XC Challenge, which took place in the Valle de San Juan in the southwest region of the country. The main site, Vallejuelo, is located in a rural area where poverty is the norm and the local people depend largely on agriculture for subsistence.
The tasks for the Caribbean Comp are all open distance, fly where you please, but the wind and the terrain and the lure of landing near our hotel often took us over a large orphanage on the road between where we stayed, and launch. The kids in the orphanage had never seen paragliders before and were more than thrilled to see our wings gliding overhead.
Impulsively, a group of pilots in the comp decided to put together a collection to purchase supplies for students of the orphanage. Within a couple of days, we had raised hundreds of Euros to buy a massive load of pencils, books, footballs, and other supplies for the school. A group of pilots from the comp donated the items directly to the school, ensuring that what was needed went to where it was needed most.
By donating directly to the people in the areas we fly, we can eliminate the risk of donations going astray, maximize the impact of the gift by giving it personally, and make the best impression on the local population possible. You never know when you might need the assistance of the locals after landing at the end of a XC flight, so do your best to support the local population and leave a good impression!