Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Redemption!

When I was hoping for some good flying karma after my less-than-spectacular flight display at Benny, I didn't expect it to come so soon.  In fact, karma only took about 24 hours to bestow it's magic.

Monday after work looked great, so my boyfriend and I decided to burn over to our closest flying site (Bridal Falls) and if nothing else, get a short end-of-day flight in.  We met at the landing field at 5:30pm and by the time we got in the air it was after 6, so really we weren't expecting much.

George had gone first, so after my take off I looked around and saw him already about 100 metres over launch.  Yippee!  I zipped over towards him and found a very light but continuous thermal, and slowwwwly made my way up to the old "upper" launch.  Back in the day before we would fly for points (most pilots submit gps track logs to online contests for fun and glory), we would used to fly to Upper (which is twice the height of the lower launch) and top land.  First pilot of the season to do it was the bravest because you never knew how deep the snow was - if it was too deep you may not be able to relaunch and have a long hike down.  But if it was packed enough to run off again, then a whole gaggle of pilots would land there and soak up some sun and just hang out for fun.

Upper Launch…where the cool kids used to hang out.


At this point George had ridden the thermals up to 1900 metres and had flown over the valley to do some sight seeing.  I flew over to the end of the ridge to a point we call "Gloria", and was about to go join George on his valley tour when I saw Mia coming to join me.  It's always fun to fly with another girl, so I waited and am glad I did…she found a great thermal for us!  After topping out we parted ways - Mia flew across the gap to Elk Mountain, and I thought I'd see if I could retrace my steps and headed towards Mt Cheam.

Mia is that tiny dot next to the red sunspot.  

At the end of the day, I didn't make it to Cheam but did get about an hour of flying, 1600 metres maximum height and some points on our online contest for flying a triangle task.  Best end to a workday ever.  Thank you karma!

Flying into the sunset.




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wind Dummy

When going paragliding, you often see pilots sitting around on launch waiting for "someone else" to go first.  Since the air is invisible you never really know if the thermals are strong enough yet or if the first pilot to venture into the air is going to sink out.  So you all look around waiting for the least patient in the bunch to announce…

"I'll be wind dummy!"

(If you're being politically correct you use the term "wind technician" but we all know what that means, even if you do say it nicely.)

Mt Benny…nice to see you again!


Today we went flying at one of our lesser used sites, one I haven't flown at for at least 5 years and have only flown 2 or 3 times total.  So really I shouldn't have volunteered to be wind dummy but for whatever reason I was really anxious to get in the air today and I asked the magic question…

"Does anyone else want to go first?"

**crickets**

And so I launched, turning to the right (just like Hammer suggested) and found some ratty lift.  I stayed in long enough to get above launch but it was pretty punchy so I decided to snoop around for some nicer air.  Instead I ran into the Sink Monster and being alone in the air had no visuals of other pilots going up to try and save myself.  By this point it was obvious the winds were coming from different directions at launch height (east - over the back) and at the ground (west), making for a mixed bag of conditions which unfortunately did not include nice big happy thermals.

Sink Monsters
Not being familiar with the site and having lost a bunch of valuable altitude to the aforementioned sink monster, I begrudgingly headed towards the landing field. The field is large and covered in dandelions going to seed so it was a pretty show…the white puffs swirling around me like snow as I plowed a trail through the long grass.  Poetic, really.

Despite the brevity of my flight, I did get to fly somewhere different and that's something to be excited about!  Hopefully I put some money in the karma bank with my valiant wind dummy effort and my next flight will be super epic.

Launch is on the second mountain back. Landing field has dandelions aplenty.  


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring 2016

I moved away from blogging a couple of years ago but have found myself missing it lately.  So many friends have been stretching their creative muscles - singing, drawing, wood working, painting - and therein lies the inspiration to bring back the blog.

A brief update since the last post - I ran my paragliding business full time for about a year and found while I enjoyed the technical aspects (networking, building the business, etc) that turning my passion into a job was not what I'd hoped it would be. Guilt would creep in on the rare occasion I chose to fly solo… that little voice would nag that I "should" be teaching while the sun was shining instead of playing around.  Living in a climate prone to rain and having a business based 100% on the weather means you often have to make an either/or choice, as opposed to running a flying business in California where I imagine you would rarely run out of flyable days and have plenty of time for both work and play.

Sharing this sport is still important and a lot of fun, so I'll continue to fly a limited number of tandems this year while switching my main focus back to solo flying.  For extra incentive to keep on track I'll be traveling out to Quebec this summer to compete in the Canadian Paragliding Nationals again.  It's a pretty big undertaking considering I haven't flown any "big" flights in the last couple of years but biting off more than I can chew is what I do!

That being said, it wasn't all work and no play over the last couple of years - some pretty cool stuff happened too.  One of the most exciting was being selected to participate in the first legal paragliding flights in Jasper, Alberta.  Up until now, free flight has not been allowed in any national park, either in Canada or the USA.  About 10 years ago, our national organization (www.HPAC.ca) started working with Parks Canada to change the regulations.  While there is still a lot of work to be done and flying is currently only permitted in Jasper with a number of conditions to meet (please visit http://www.hpac.ca/pub/?pid=389 for information), we did have a successful first flight and are looking forward to more parks opening up to us in the future.

Here's a little video I made of the occasion…the cheesy song seemed a perfect fit as we look for more freedom in our flying locations ;)



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Autumn Hike and Fly

Looking back, it's probably been at least 4 or 5 years since I've done a hike and fly off Elk Mountain.  It's something I would plan on doing each year but I'd always let other things get in the way. It's kind of ridiculous since the trail head is only a 10 minute drive from my house.

So when Kevin texted me to meet him at the landing field, I immediately went through my paragliding kit and got rid of anything extra I didn't want to hike up the mountain with me, filled up my water bottle and ran out the door.

The hike up is a little shorter than in years past thanks to a new logging road, but it still took an hour and a half for this non-hiker.  Kevin usually does it in about an hour so I have a goal to work towards! The hike is beautiful but steep, with sections of nice, rolling paths and then steep switchbacks.  I was sure grateful to Kevin for lending me his spare hiking harness & reserve, plus bringing along some extra hiking poles.

Last of the steep section before a nice stroll along the ridge to the launch meadow.

There was barely any wind, so we set up side by side to power off with forward launches into the glassy smooth air.

Ready to launch


My favourite thing ever - running off a mountain!

Twenty-five minutes later we were back at my beloved Toyota FJ.  I drove Kevin back to the trailhead to get his truck and was back home in 15 minutes.  With rain in the forecast every day for the rest of the month I'm stoked that we got to sneak this flight in!


My view of Kevin coming in to land.


Kevin's POV of someone a little bit excited about this hike and fly.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Small Business Month

I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to do what I love and also get paid for it.  Paragliding has been my only job since I went full-time in June which means as bizarre as it feels I'm officially an entrepreneur and small business owner.


And since October is now Small Business Month (read on to find out how I was one of the first to hear that news!) I wanted to share some of my stories as to how I have been growing my business as a paragliding instructor and tandem pilot.

As the cooler weather moves in, my focus is slowly switching from flying tandems off mountain tops to "inside" work (marketing, catching up on paperwork, etc).  I've been fortunate over the flying season to bring in a lot of business through word-of-mouth referrals.   People also began contacting me who had found Jet Set Paragliding through online searches.  That made me realize that there was a lot more to being an entrepreneur than hanging a virtual "open for business" sign up on Facebook.

So I decided to start running my business as a business and soon found a cool event put on by the Vancouver Board of Trade and Small Business BC.  I grabbed my friend Zoe who had recently started her own event planning business and we drove into the city on Monday for a night of schmoozing and swag bags.

Besides all the free resources and gifts (thanks Telus for the portable usb charger for my iPhone - how cool is that!) we were lucky enough to attend a panel discussion where successful small business owners from BC dispensed helpful advice and answered questions.  Before the panel spoke, the Minster of Tourism and Small Business read a very official sounding decree (complete with references to the Queen and terms like "therefore" and "let it be known that") which announced that October was officially Small Business Month.  That means more seminars, events and resources becoming available for those of us crazy enough to want to run our own businesses!

Free phone charger, advice and red wine…what more do you need as a business owner?

What did I get out of it...besides the aforementioned swag?  Inspiration (which makes sense since the event was titled "Inspire") and also validation that what I want to accomplish is completely possible.  I heard other stories that night of "niche" businesses that become successful and they made me realize…if someone else can do it then so can I!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Video Competition

Just a short post today!

Skywalk holds a video competition each year for pilots to share their flying experiences.  I entered this year, and would love if you would take a look on Vimeo or YouTube and give it a like or thumbs up if you enjoy it.  There are some great prizes like harnesses (!) and winners will be announced in the 2015 edition of Skywalk's "magalog".  Fingers crossed!



It's all about the camera angles







Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why I love being a Team Pilot.

Being a Team Pilot can mean a lot of different things depending on what "Team" you're flying for.  As a Skywalk Team Pilot, my role consists mainly of educating pilots about the brand (as Skywalk is relatively new in Canada & the US, despite being a top brand in Europe).  Of course, promoting them goes along with that, but it's not a difficult job since I am thrilled with the performance of all my Skywalk gear.  My first top-landing at Woodside with my Cayenne 4 (solo wing) was the easiest I'd ever done, and my new tandem wing (the Join't 3) flies and lands like a dream.

Granted, they also love when I get a chance to compete and fly well (winning the trophy for top Canadian Female in 2013 was a good one!) but there is never a threat of their support being pulled if I don't bring home the gold.  They are just as happy to hear that I stood on the hill for an hour helping other pilots launch (regardless of what brand of paraglider they fly) as they would be with any competition I'm a part of.  It's one of the main reasons I accepted Skywalk's offer to fly for them, besides the fact that their products are so impressive of course.

If I lived in Europe I would get a chance to hang out with other Team Pilots, both on the hill and at the twice-annual Skywalk Team Pilots meeting.  As the only Canadian Team Pilot I mainly connect with my Team online, so when something special arrives in the mail it reinforces the fact that they find value in working with me just as I do with them.  Yesterday a goodie bag arrived with the new Skywalk T-shirts, along with some windsocks I'd requested to bring to my friends in Keremeos who have been supporting me all summer long (and for some local spots too).

Windsocks for various friends, tshirts for me!



The parcel also contained the brand new Range Air, Skywalk's hike-and-fly pod harness that only weighs in at about 2 kg!  Since it was raining yesterday George only got to try out the new backpack, but it easily fit the new harness with his "normal" Tequila 4 paraglider.  A dedicated hike and fly wing would result in an even smaller pack size!


Skywalk's new Pod Harness with "normal" sized paraglider packed inside.
Beer not included.

If the forecast holds out and it's sunny this weekend, be sure to look for George trying out the Range Air while I rock the new team colours.  To order your own (harness or tshirts) just let me know, or contact George or Lee direct at Thermal Addict Airsports, Skywalk's Western Canada importer.

Thank you Skywalk for your continued support and for making such great products!