High winds fueled an impromptu kite-surfing performance for visitors at Ocean Beach. Photo by Chris Stone.

Hang gliders and paragliders — like the ones at Torrey Pines or local mountains* — aren’t just free spirits giving themselves and tourists a buzz. They’re an active group with down-to-earth concerns.

High winds fueled an impromptu kite-surfing performance for visitors at Ocean Beach. Photo by Chris Stone

Like insurance.

The San Diego Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, led by Steve Rohrbaugh, is a local chapter of the USHPA.

“We work collaboratively with land owners and governing agencies at the local level to keep our primary flying sites open by insuring, maintaining, purchasing, regulating and monitoring our launch sites and landing zones,” says the U.S. site.

But according to the local and national groups, the future of free flight nationally is threatened by insurance issues.

The national group says:

“The insurance landscape has changed rapidly, forcing USHPA to pursue self-insurance. At the beginning this requires capital to set up: We have raised $1,161,388 to date, and must raise an additional $838,612 by March 1, 2016, to continue protecting our sites, schools and members.”

About $740,000 is left to be raised. Tax-deductible donations are being solicited.

The San Diego chapter says consequences for San Diego pilots will be discussed at its next meeting — Thursday, Dec. 17.

Asked about insurance, chapter president Rohrbaugh said: “The short answer is the Q&A at the bottom of this post. And that not having insurance would likely affect our ability to fly many of our local sites.”

He also advised reading “Background on the Insurance Situation (what the heck happened?)” on the USHPA page under INFO CENTER & FAQ.

*An earlier version of this story and captions mistakenly referred to kite surfers as paragliders. Kite surfing is pictured here.

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