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Cliff Hangar

March 07, 1993

Wander out to the edge of a certain bluff in Pacific Palisades on any breezy weekend afternoon and you're all but certain to encounter the slope gliders.

"The sports cars of hobby gliders" is the description glider enthusiast Don Ayers, below left, has for the highly maneuverable flying craft.

The spot favored by Ayers and other "pilots" is a cliff at the end of Mount Holyoke Avenue, overlooking Temescal Canyon and the Pacific. There, the ocean breezes create updrafts as they hit the cliffs. Pilot Sandy Bredin, above, took along his dog, Chile, right.

The gliders range in weight from about one to four pounds and have wingspans of four to six feet. The pilot guides the craft with a battery-powered remote control. They typically travel at speeds of 15 to 20 m.p.h., but can reach 60 to 80 m.p.h. on very windy days.

The challenge, Ayers says, is in "finding the right altitude of the hill" to get the most lift, and the longest and highest flight. Some pilots put their gliders through loops, barrel rolls and dizzying tailspins.

Ayers says a group of six veteran pilots meet on the cliffs every windy weekend.

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