If there's such a thing as a renaissance man of extreme sports, Jon Malmberg is it.
Malmberg, who calls the Gorge his home base, is an extreme skier, kiteboarder, basejumper, paraglider, speedflyer and lover of most things that turn normal people's legs to jelly at the thought of doing.
And among his favorite thrills, paragliding is at the top of the list. And why not? Why find the highest hilltops with the steadiest wind, attach yourself to a large kite and run off the edge; drifting slowly away and circling over treetops and freeways with the birds.
As a certified instructor of several sports, including paragliding, Malmberg's interest is not entirely about self-satisfaction. Teaching others, he says, and helping people experience the joys of flight is a worthy pursuit.
And it's that pursuit that is leading him to Africa.
"I am indeed off to Ghana to help support a local charity event and introduce the local people of Nkawkaw to the power of flight through my tandem paragliding skills," he said about his trip next week. "Part of the event, besides our local pilot fundraising, is highlighting the fantastic paragliding and tourism of the local area. Our role as invited tandem pilots is to fly and share the power of flight with the local people."
Malmberg was invited with only a handful of other pilots across the country, by the government of Ghana, to take part in the festival; travel expenses paid by the local government.
"We are not there to be on vacation," he said of the trip. "We will be working very hard as tandem pilots at the event."
In addition to sharing the joys of flight with the locals, Malmberg and the other pilots are raising money for a paragliding-based charity called the Cloudbase Foundation, which uses donations for charity work in areas where they fly.
To help raise money for the foundation, Malmberg is putting on a raffle for people who donate in his name. The winner, which will be drawn next week before he leaves, will get a full day of instruction in one of the several sports Malmberg is certified to teach (ski/snowboarding, paragliding or tandem flying and kiteboarding).
For more information or to donate, contact Malmberg by the weekend at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-490-1040.