Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Looking back through the rain

Ah…the May long weekend.  The unofficial start to summer in Canada, and almost guaranteed to rain in BC as everyone heads out camping.  That held true this year, and it was a wet weekend with no flying locally (although I did find out just how much rain you can golf in!).

This past weekend was also the anniversary of my first solo flight, but without any flyable weather here to celebrate I'm looking back to some recent (ish) paragliding fun.  Last year around this time I was lucky enough to take part in filming a commercial for the L Series lens from Canon.  The commercial featured Canadian Red Bull athlete Will Gadd (video link at bottom of post) and followed him using a Canon camera while pursuing some of his favourite activities.  In the course of a couple of days he got to climb, paddle and paraglide, all of it right here in Beautiful BC.

For the paragliding portion we had 2 tandem paraglider pilots and of course Will flying solo.  I took the stills photographer for the print campaign (check out her amazing portfolio at while another local pilot took the videographer. Here's a behind-the-scenes shot of Will (centre of photo) and the videographer-tandem as we all flew into position for the next portion of filming.  It was a very cool learning experience, figuring out how to get shots without being in the shots and flying around Will while trying to keep in the thermals!  

Behind the scenes in the Fraser Valley (click to enlarge)

A long time ago, I used to work "in the movies" as an assistant director, but this was unlike anything I had ever done before. Between the weather magically clearing as our "call time" approached and plenty of thermals popping up to help us get the shots, it was a perfect day that I was proud to be a part of.

So without further ado…here's the finished video (you may have already watched this on the big screen last year waiting for your movie to start or seen the huge photos while picking up your bags at the airport):  

Thursday, May 5, 2016


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?"


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.