I received this pair of photos from a Manitoba friend I’ve kept in contact with. That’s me in the yellow fleece on the right side.
Those were my hang gliding days – I wouldn’t be surprised if that photo was actually taken on a late fall weekend fly-in in Dauphin Manitoba. I don’t recognize the glider but I recognize, and can name, all but one of the people in the pictures.
I did love flying. I didn’t get to do a lot of solo flying – my technique never got good enough that I felt safe in the air on my own but I did a lot of flying at the control bar with a number of different instructors. What a wonderful feeling to be high in the air with just the wind whistling past, the fields below, and the wide panorama in front of us.
I even got to fly, after launching, high over Makapu’u Point on a couple of occasions, from the California hills somewhere near Santa Barbara, even outside Bendigo Australia with the chill Antarctic wind reaching us.
This all took place when I was living in Manitoba.
When I returned to Nova Scotia, in 1997, I switched to paragliding – trying to get a hang glider to the various rustic launch sites available to us was just physically beyond me and I wasn’t about to ask a fellow pilot to carry my glider to the top of the hill for me! I could manage the paragliding gear (glider, harness, helmet, arm pads, gloves) myself, though.
It took quite a bit of training before I felt confident enough to actually push myself off launch after inflating the glider. I remember clearly my first real parading flight on the hill at Fox River. I’d inflated the glider (I’d got good at that), but was reluctant to start the run – Brian Wheaton gave me a big push and I was in the air, aiming for the landing site beyond the trees at the far edge of the blueberry fields. The flight lasted less than 2 minutes but I landed successfully on my feet!
That was it. I made the trip to Parrsboro regularly over the next many years hoping to find good flying conditions when I arrived but often the wind was too light or too strong. However, once in a while I managed to get into the air.
I’d have kept at the sport except I discovered I had osteoporosis and suddenly a hard landing on my bum wasn’t such a good idea. My flying career was over.
I hung out with the pilots for another couple of seasons – I loved being at the top of the hills watching the gliders weave back and forth along the shore edge.
Eventually I stopped attending the Annual Flying Festival. Life moves on.
I miss flying, though!