Launching a College Scholarship

I am proud to say I’m a college student who lives in Ruch, Oregon, at the bottom of a mountain called Wood Rat—a launch site for paragliders and hang gliders.

By Lucas R. Wolf

Lucas R Wolf
Lucas R Wolf

Growing up at the base of this mountain, I always watched in awe as flying maniacs descended from the heavens, wondering what it felt like to fly!  I never believed I would find out.

One day a fellow rancher, Tim Hunter, approached me with a big smile on his face and said, “Do you still want to attend college and have a ranch someday?”  “Absolutely!” I replied.  Mr. Hunter proceeded to tell me that I might qualify for a scholarship being offered by competition paragliding pilots for those who intend to be ranchers in Applegate Valley, Oregon.  I called Mike Haley, the chairman of the committee, and scheduled a meeting to discuss my eligibility. Both Mr. Hunter and Mike decided I was a good candidate, bringing me one step closer to achieving my dream of attending college!  Content with having the possibility of funds to help me pay for school, I had to answer the question: “Am I going to fly?”

On a beautiful partly-cloudy day in Applegate Valley, Mike, Gail and I headed up to the top of Wood Rat Mountain! When we reached the top, I was excited and a little nervous. I was actually going to fly! The wind, alas, was too strong, so we sat and waited for it to subside. However, as time passed and the wind grew stronger, it was apparent we were not going to fly. I was a little bummed, but at the same time relieved that I had another day to prepare myself.

The following day we once again headed up to the top of the mountain. This time the day was bright and warm with no clouds in sight.  While we talked with other pilots and waited for the wind to pick up, I had the same feelings of excitement and nervousness! Mike talked me through take-off and landing procedures and told me to suit-up and get ready! I was so excited! All these years of my wondering what it was like to fly was about to be answered! We laid out everything and buckled up. As we stood there waiting in the stillness, I starting thinking of everything bad that could happen, but in the middle of my thinking, Mike said, “GO!” We started running—only to be suddenly jerked back. Loudly he said, “AGAIN! GO!” So we pushed forward and kept running for the edge. My feet began to touch the ground only every couple of steps. It felt as if I weighed nothing and was running on the moon! Before I knew it we were airborne.

As I adjusted in my seat, I started laughing uncontrollably! I had never felt anything like this before! As we glided through the air and I gazed out across the Applegate Valley, I realized how beautiful our Valley is and what a privilege it is to live here.  This flight was definitely my life’s greatest experience, and I looked forward to many more flights.

As I write this, two of my life goals have come true because of the competition paragliding pilots who visit and compete at Wood Rat Mountain.  I have flown and I am enrolled in college.  My end goal is to finish my four-year degree and own my own ranch  in the Applegate Valley.

I am honored to receive this $2000.00 scholarship and am thankful for all the people who donated and helped support me, someone who is a stranger to them. When I have my ranch in the future, please know it will be a safe haven for those hang glider and paragliding pilots who need a place to land!