Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Taking to the skies

My husband started to learn how to paraglide last year. He did a beginner's course through the University of Calgary and caught the bug.

We live in Cochrane, Alberta. There is a big hill in Cochrane - it's called Big Hill (!) - on top of which is Muller Windsports, the largest paragliding school in Alberta (and probably Canada?) and it is about 3km from our house. Result!

This is where you start the intermediate level which consists of throwing yourself off the hill, attempting to master inflation techniques, and take off. So after about about 20 seconds, or a minute or two in the air, you land at the bottom of the hill, and then walk all the way back up to the top again (no mean feat) to once again launch yourself.

After you have done this about 20 times, and lost the will to live and sweated off about 4lbs, eventually you just "get it" and you're flying properly.

This is my very technical take on things anyway. I don't have the correct vocabulary, I am sure, but this stage would have put me off the whole thing, and no mistake. Far too much hard work for such little reward (plus I'm not fit so it would have killed me to walk up the hill hauling my glider!).

But eventually, after an accumulation of lots of minutes in the air and lots of work on your technique, you get to go on a "High Flight" course. Yay! Reward at last.

So last weekend, hubby headed off to Golden on the British Columbia side of the Rockies and joined some other nutters, sorry, enthusiasts as they prepared to jump off a mountain. For some, like my husband, this would be a first.

Signal on cellphone - check.
Paraglider and reserve chute packed correctly - check.
Life insurance up to date - check.

This is a large mountain. Mount 7, some 3,800 ft high, overlooking the town of Golden along the river valley. Those clouds were cause for some concern for a while, but eventually they got the green light.

With great excitement, and only a little trepidation, he gets ready to launch.

A couple more steps, the glider is fully inflated and his feet leave the safety of the hillside.

Settle down into the harness ....

... take a good look down the mountain side and ...

... fly !

Disclaimer (and thanks): most of these photos are not my own, so thank you to Vincene at Muller Windsports for providing some great shots of all our nutters as they took to the air!


  1. Wow, impressive.

    PS your husband's got a huge arse ;)

  2. How very exciting and wonderful. I admire your man for doing this completely crazy yet exhilarating thing. I would do it, but I don't like heights. That's my excuse and sticking to it.

  3. Very cool--I watch the paragliders launch from the East Ridge over Butte, but think I'll keep my feet on the ground or in the river.

  4. Woooooo-weeeeee! That's fantastic! Good for him!

    Just think Ann, when he gets good enough he can take you for a tandem flight, lucky you. ;-)

  5. Hee hee to me! It's definitely not the outfit to ask "does my bum look big in this?" !!

  6. Amazing! I could never do this! I was thinking of taking the kids out back this afternoon to fly a kite--that's as ambitious as I get!


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