History of flyPiedrahita.

An account by Steve.

Airwave Spain 1991

Putting logos on the first van in 1991

I first arrived in Piedrahita in the summer of 1991, when looking for a venue to set up my flying business. At this time I had a brief from Roy Carter and John Pendry of Airwave Gliders to set up the Spanish importation of their gliders. At that time they were world leaders in Hang Gliding sales, and had just entered the paragliding market with Bruce Goldsmith's first production paraglider, the Black Magic.

The volume of sales in Spain were poor in comparison to other countries, so I was sent in the spring of 1991 to do some market research for them. It was later decided that I should set up Airwave España S.L.

At that time Piedrahita was pretty much unknown as a flying site outside of the province. I was looking for somewhere where I could develop a site, much the way that Declan Doyle had done in Ager during the mid 1980s.

I had briefly visited the area in March 1990, after reading an article in Sailplane and Gliding magazine . However, at that time assets/articles/there was snow on the mountain and strong winds so I did not hang around. That article had me set on Spains Central Chain of mountains and while chatting with some pilots one day at El Escorial, they mentioned that a few pilots had flown excellent XCs in Piedrahita. Some days later, with Enrico Castarelli, we set of to investigate.

The memory of that first trip from Madrid stays with me, even though now I do it almost every weekend when collecting pilots from the airport. The first view of the medieval walls of Avila, the impressively straight road through the Amblés valley, and my first view of the Gredos Mountains as I climbed out above take off.

We had arrived on market day, so there was plenty of ambiance in the town. Whilst parking up in the main square the municipal policeman came across, and rather than telling us to move on, as we had expected, started up a conversation about our hang gliders on the roof of the car. He mentioned that the town hall administrator was a keen pilot and took us to see him.

Falín (Salvador Cerrada), was a recent convert to paragliding with great enthusiasm and pride in the province of Avila. I decided that day to set up home in Piedrahita and, with the help of Falín, over the next few years worked hard to put Piedrahita on the world flying map which by the mid 1990s was firmly established with its multiple records and hugely successful flying events. See history of Records and Competitions in Piedrahita.

I spend most of the first years of the 1990s travelling around Spain trying to establish the Airwave dealer network. Meanwhile, along with organising the competitions, we started assisting the growing number of pilots interested in flying in the area.

Photo of Puri Almansa Arribas Voodoo 1994

Puri launching her Voodoo in 1994

My partnership with Puri started in 1992 (we were married in 1997), and from 1995, the fly-guiding aspect of our business became the most important. In the early 1990s we also had a paragliding school training beginners. However, our distance from the larger cities prevented our having enough clientele.

In 1998 we bought our principal house, which with its seven bedrooms allowed us to improve the business.

In 2005 we purchased some land near the town where we hope build our new home in 2008, leaving our current house, C/Somoza 20, for the full use by our guests.

Over the years we have had a number of retrieve drivers and vans. From modest beginnings with the Airwave VW and Citroen vans, then a series of Dutch army and police VW vans, the Hyundai people carrier, and currently a long wheelbase Ford Transit and a long wheelbase Mercedes Vito.

Our drivers and assistants over the years have been Jerry, Jose, Jorge, Teclas and most recently Paul Russell, the designer of this website.

The Previous website was set up and run by Graham Files, and previous to that our first introduction into cyber world was made on our behalf by Nick Dolan.