Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday...and then some!

The view from my paraglider today (or...another reason I'm addicted to this sport).

It was a great Friday, and Saturday was fabulous too! Having gone to a Catholic elementary school, Good Friday was always a solemn occasion. We would go to church, talk about Jesus dying and the worst part was we had to eat fish for dinner! Of course that would make Easter Sunday all the better as I got to wear a pretty dress and eat lots of chocolate.

But this year my "Easter" was on Good Friday, with the celebration continuing through the weekend. Friday's flight started out pretty rough but I kept repeating my mantra, "relax", and soon beefed up my bump tolerance. I followed some pilots until they started sinking and then found enough lift to get back over launch. After gliding around the valley a bit I found a beautiful thermal over a little hill and tried to make it back to launch again. It didn't look like I'd clear the ridge so I touched down in a farmer's field just ahead of a "poop" truck. I packed up quickly to keep from getting sprayed and soon a wonderful man asked if I needed a ride back to my car. He had his own little fixed-wing airplane & wanted to know all about what I was doing, so by the end of it I'd offered him a tandem and hope he'll take me up on it.

The "poop" truck coming to get me!

Today looked like it would be too stable to fly, but after waiting on launch for 2 hours we finally got airborne. My friend Karin was out after a long hiatus so we decided to try a small xc flight together over to my house. Everything worked out perfectly and we had a really fun flight, landing on a small road between the fields and then hopping a barbed wire fence to get out. We felt pretty adventurous! While walking the 2 blocks to my house we passed some kids selling lemonade so of course shelled out the 25 cents each for a drink. So refreshing, and such a civilized ending to a great flight.

Karin coming in to land

Tomorrow morning Derek & I hop on a plane to Europe for 6 weeks of adventure. I'm pretty sure this is my favourite Easter ever!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flying Dreams

One of the first things people tell me when I talk to them about paragliding is that they have flying dreams, and want to know if paragliding is anything like that. Usually it isn't. In dreams, most people don't run off cliffs and spend their time either frantically looking for lift or holding their breath as they pass through turbulent air. But yesterday was different.

It was cold. Really cold. In fact after about 15 minutes I was ready to call on the radio and see if anyone wanted to go land and get some hot chocolate. But no one else seemed to mind their frozen fingertips, so I gave myself the challenge of trying to stay airborne while flying around closer to the ground where the couple degrees of temperature increase would make all the difference. And then the magic happened.

At around 250 metres over the ground I saw a bird in front of me, going up slowly but still going up. I flew over and sure enough there was a thermal...although it was a very stinky one. A pooh thermal to be exact. A tractor was fertilizing the fields below and with each pass of the field would release the tiny, smelly thermals. For 30 whole minutes I spent my time between 250-350 metres over the ground happily drifting all around the valley floor, while everyone else was shivering while flying up high over the mountain. Any time my thermal vanished I would just head for my trusty tractor & literally sniff around til I found the lift again. It was exactly like a flying dream...quiet, smooth air and the feeling of just being able to float around above the ground forever.

I've been flying for over 10 years now, and it never gets boring. Just when you think you have the day figured out a little gift like this flight pops up, and the sport is brand new again. I think I may just be the luckiest girl in the world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Air Therapy

happy girl after landing

Something about a good flight makes everything else in life better. That's probably yet another sign that I'm hopelessly addicted to this sport, but I'm a happy addict so it's fine by me.

Today was amazing. It's been raining for the last 3 days & the forecast was for rain straight through the weekend so nobody was planning to fly at all. But magically the sun appeared and by the time our group reached launch at 4pm there were already a couple of pilots twice the height of launch. Some hazy cloud had moved in by the time I took off so I wasn't expecting much, but there was still lift to be found and soon we joined our friends and started exploring the sky.

Most of us had decided to go over the back so I went that way after getting high enough, although I was on my own for the first bit as I had launched last. At Agassiz mountain the group had split up, but 3 of us chatted on the radio & decided to try & fly back to the launch (especially since all of our trucks were parked there at the bottom). It had clouded over some, so eventually the other pilots bailed and flew out to the alternate landing. That left me in charge of getting back to the truck and going to get everyone else! I was pretty low and turned to go land with the group a couple of times, but kept the faith & eventually skulked around the south knoll and had the landing in sight.

Of course as soon as the hard part was over I caught my best thermal of the day. I got back up high over launch and extended my flight a bit before heading out to land and pick up my buddies. Today was a sweet surprise and a great enabling for my addiction.