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“I have been fascinated with airplanes and flight for as long as I can remember. When I was little my parents would take me to air shows and museums all the time. I traveled by plane a lot while growing up but my first real experience with flight was jumping out of an airplane in 2002.
For me, flight means feeling the air and having significant control with your body. I pursued skydiving as a hobby and a second job as a tandem instructor before finding paragliding in 2008. I realized the dream of long flights without the restriction of being in an airplane.
After eight years of paragliding in the bay area, I’m still amazed that I can work with nature and have the ability to fly like a bird without any kind of engine. Today it’s my passion to share this mind blowing experience with others. I try to fly daily and prefer to take someone else with me whenever possible.“
Mark Zinkel has been flying various kinds of aircraft since he was 18. He’s had a passion for aviation for much longer. When he was in middle school, he formed a rocket club and shot of rockets after school. When he was 16, he bought an ultralight aircraft and began rebuilding it. At 18, he left his high school graduation ceremony in California and left to Pennsylvania for an internship at DFE Ultralights. This is where Mark first gained a knowledge in aircraft construction and first soloed an aircraft. From there, he spent two years studying at an FAA Part 147 Aviation Maintenance Technician school while working towards his Private Pilot Certificate and going to college. This is also the period of his life where he learned to fly paragliders and powered paragliders.
After Mark tasted paragliding and paramotoring, he discovered that he liked it more than “regular airplanes.” As he puts it “I don’t want to be regular. Regular is boring. Why would you want to fly a regular airplane!? If I wanted to be like everyone else, I’d have a dull 9 to 5 existence working at an insurance company! Paragliders are more adventurous and significantly more exciting.” Since discovering paragliding and paramotoring, Mark has dedicated a significant portion of his life to it. He is currently a Basic Flight Instructor with AeroSports Connection, has taught over 100 people how to paramotor, and a co-owner of Elite Paragliding.