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Mitch Riley

Do you have a nickname that you go by?

Where do you live?
Santa Barbara, California

What do you do for work?
Paragliding Instructor

What year, and how old were you when you started flying?
I started paragliding in 2007 at the age of 22

Did a family member introduce you to paragliding? Does anyone else in your family fly?
My parents organized a tandem flight for me in 1992 when I was 8 years old.  That flight is one of my most vivid childhood memories. I remember being able to pick out individual trees below us shortly after takeoff. In an astonishingly short amount of time, those trees became a forest that we were flying thousands of feet above. I always knew that I would fly as an adult.  I am the only one in my family who flies, but I have taken most of them tandem.

What other passions do you have, or activities do you enjoy?
Before flying I was a committed big mountain skier, river guide, and Class V kayaker. I also enjoy mountain biking, trail running, and surfing. Being on the ocean and interacting with seals and dolphins while trying to learn a pursuit as complicated as surfing has been fascinating, and taught me a lot about being a pilot.  I am passionate about adventure in general. I love exploring myself and interacting with forces of nature.

Why is flying important to you, and what does flying mean to you?
I’ve chosen to devote my life to flying and sharing the love of flying with others. There are many reasons for that love and devotion, but here are a few: Nature, learning and progression and community.

Flying Achievements

  • 2013- Bivy trip across Western Nepal
  • 2013-USA Sports Class National Champion
  • 2014-Wrangell Mountains Alaska first Vol-Biv trip with Wil Brown
  • 2015-USA Overall National Champion
  • 2015-1st US Intermountain wide open
  • 2017-1st US intermountain wide open
  • 2017-X-Alps competitor
  • 2018-2nd Monarca Open
  • 2018-2nd Applegate Open
  • 2018-3rd USA National Championships
  • 2018-4th PWC Turkey
  • 2018-5th Dolomiti Superfly
  • 2019-1st Monarca Open