A local female hang glider pilot will put on a festival this weekend to honor the sport and celebrate women while encouraging others to learn the activity. The fourth Women's Fly-In Festival at Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding will be held all weekend at the flight park on Rising Fawn's Scenic Highway.
Everyone, including men and families, is welcome to attend.
The event was founded by local pilots Elisabeth Fortanier and Stacy Murdoch. Fortanier died earlier this year. Her death was not flying related. A memorial event will be held Friday after registration during an evening of festivities.
"It's going to be about celebrating the women in adventure sports, and more specifically, those in free-flight," flight park marketing director Janet Chesson said. " There will hopefully be lots of flying and definitely lots of festival and fun."
About 30 pilots will take part in a friendly competition Saturday and Sunday in which they will be challenged with different tasks and objectives as they attempt to out-fly their competitors. The pilots will host clinics for registrants to teach them the ins and outs of hang gliding. The flight park will offer $99 tandem flights to first-timers in an attempt to attract more people to the sport.
"That's as low as we ever go," Chesson said.
The discount will run Friday-Monday and spots are filling quickly. Registration costs $45 and will be held today from 4-6:30 p.m. at the flight park. An evening of festivities, including an open mic night, is scheduled to follow. Registration is also available by calling 706-398-3541. It includes food each night, a T-shirt, bonfires, a yoga activity Saturday morning, music, dancing and more celebration. The evening parties are $10 each for those who do not register.
An award ceremony will be held Sunday evening, followed by a Memorial Day cookout, more music and line dancing. The flight park will continue offering discounts after the event for the rest of the month. Novice, learn-to-fly packages will be $100 off through the end of May.
"We're just wanting to encourage more women to try flying. It's one of those sports where women can do it as well or better than any guy," flight park owner Matt Taber said. "Mainly, we're trying to get people to understand that this is here and it's not difficult."