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We recently graduated a   CF-18 Hornet Pilot from our Top Gun P2 Novice Paragliding Pilot program.  Read about his impressions of iParaglide.

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We are the only paragliding resource center conveniently located in downtown Vancouver at 1238 Seymour Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, for all your paragliding needs.

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We are central to paragliding sites in the Vancouver, Chilliwack, Pemberton, Whistler, Bellingham and Seattle area so students enjoy maximum variety and we can work with weather to optimize selection of the best location each day.

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We regularly test fly the latest paragliding gear and select only the very finest for our iParaglide Right Stuff Paragliding Equipment Store. This ensures our paraglider pilots enjoy a state of the art performance and safety advantage to accelerate their learning curve.

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Monday
Mar032014

Addressing Fear

Monday, the Italian paragliding routine here in Bassano Del Grappa continues with one slight variation. The east wind from the evening before is persisting and requires a relocation in terms of launches. 

Which brings us to...

Costalunga.

This south east facing paragliding launch site is maybe five gliders wide and three gliders long with a steep grade, tall uncut grass, and framed at the bottom by thorned bushes and 10 meter tall trees.

What's there not to love about Costalunga?

Reality is, given a good wind, all I need is enough room to lay out and take two steps. That knowledge and confidence comes from experience. But experience gives the test first and the lesson afterwards.

Simply put, to the inexperienced, this site can be intimidating.

Costalunga is a test. One of many new pilots will face as they grow their experience base, reducing the need to fall though the overdraft flow of judgement->skill->luck->insurance. The test of the sort Costalunga provides has a. and b. answer options:

a. trust.
b. fear.

Do we trust our knowledge of wind interaction with terrain to chose the optimal layout location and orientation? Do we trust out knowledge of paraglider preparation to ensure the glider is laid out in such a manner that we have span wise tension on the leading edge and that the wing tips are arranged to ensure an even inflation? Do we trust our launch skills to the degree that we will bring glider up evenly, on heading, with surge check, and start an aggressive run. Do we trust our connection with the glider to the degree that we can sense something is off and have the ability to correct it or abort immediately?

If the answer to any of these is no, then fear begins to enter the equation. Fear, the insidious negator of skill, can quickly become a self fulfilling prophecy for a paraglider pilot.

Overcoming fear first requires identification. Is the fear rational or irrational. Irrational fear is a nervousness of the unknown masking our ability to accurately judge our skill level against the challenge standing  before us.

This fear can be quickly crushed by one simple question, "Why am I afraid?"

With this question, we change the fear into a rational one by identifying short comings in our skill and go about correcting them. If there are shortcomings, we need to ground ourselves for this flight and head back to the more controlled environment of a training hill, so we can polish our skills and come back empowered. Or alternatively, we may negate the fear by realizing that our judgment and skill bases are up to the task, we simply hadn't synergized our toolset to face this particular type of challenge before.

Fear, fear is important. It allows us to find holes in our skill base and correct them. Filling these holes enables us to build trust both in ourselves and our equipment, so that when we face the test again, we can confidently chose a. and get on with having an amazing flight.

So when faced with the unknown and doubt begins to creep in, ask "Why am I afraid?".

As for Costalunga, not so intimidating anymore.

Thursday
Feb202014

Outdoor Adventure Show, Mar. 8 & 9  

With spring approaching, a great opportunity to plan new outdoor adventure sports for the upcoming season.

We're excited about the upcoming Outdoor Adventure Show, March 8 & 9 at the Vancouver Convention Center, 999 Canada Place. This year the show is in the East Building.

Show times are:

  • Saturday, March 8, 10:00-18:00
  • Sunday, March 9, 10:00-17:00

Lots of fascinating sports to explore including kayaking, scuba, climbing, mountain biking, camping, adventure travel and much more...

We'll be featuring the sport of paragliding at booth #615, providing the latest news and insights and answering questions.  We will also be presenting The Sky is Your Playgound, a multimedia experience that will demistify the basics of paragliding and is sure to get guests minds soaring!

If you would like to attend, iParaglide is happy to offer guests this discount coupon. You can bring as many friends as you like, just be sure to print as many as you need and bring with you to the show. 

We look forward to seeing you at the show!

 

Wednesday
Feb052014

VIMFF Featuring Paragliding Film Feb.12 @ Rio Theatre 

The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) 2014 is coming up fast, running Feb.7-15, with different programs held at the Centennial, The Cinematheque, and Rio Theatres. Once again, they will be featuring a great new paragliding film. 

  

A detailed list of all the great films running and their respective venues is here.

We are honored to be back MCing the Adrenaline Show, Wed. Feb.12 at the Rio Theatre, doors at 18:30, showtime 19:30.

In Chasing Summits, join three paraglider pilot friends in the ultimate adventure in Northern Pakistan, with epic paragliding flights over Rakaposhi, Gasherbrum and other famous summits of the Karakoram.

The evening features a presentation on high-lining.

Then drop in from a helicopter, on a wingsuit, toward an archway carved out of a mountain...

Hope to see you all at what promises to be an evening of exhilarating paragliding, highline and wingsuit presentations!

Friday
Jan312014

Vancouver Zoo & Paragliding Bridal Falls

I now have this photo on my wall at home and love to be reminded that the air we share with the locals, while flying our paragliders, is a blissful thing.

I really enjoyed my visit to the Vancouver Zoo last summer as I looked eye to eye with the various birds there. They are the naturals at finding thermals! They don't have to work and make money to take care of life expenses. They don't have to watch the weather on the internet looking for a good day to drive to Woodside, Bridal or Pemberton... no... all they have to do is fly.

I am so enlightened to put my paraglider in the vehicle and do the drive out to the sites. I love the idea that when I wake up in the morning of a good flying day, jump in the shower, grab some food, do a final check on the weather and head out, that I know that I will again experience something that most could only dream about a short 30 years ago. I guess that some day I will have enough money to not worry about bills and all that stuff... and all I will do is JUST FLY.

Here is a video I made of Paragliding Bridal Falls, that captures some of that spirit. Enjoy.

 

Monday
Sep092013

The Pink Helmet

I get a lot of compliments on my helmet. My partner, Russ, got it for me for my birthday and it is a beautiful thing: an Icaro Paragliding Helmet with a tinted grey visor and, best of all, it is in pink.

I've told the story of why I have a pink helmet a lot. It goes like this:

One day, I was in line for one of my paragliding training flights at our local mountain. As I gathered up my mushroomed wing and moved towards the launch area, a man and his son – part of a group of non-pilots who had just come up to watch – were heading towards the port-a-potty. As we passed each other, the father urged his son to hurry up by gesturing at me and saying: "Let's go quick; that boy is going to fly soon."

Helmet Shot

When I tell this story to my fellow pilots, the men are sympathetic. One said what most of them are probably thinking: "I guess I wouldn't like being mistaken for a girl." But the insult implied by calling a man "girl" is very different than calling me a boy. Though the clothing and equipment used by paragliding pilots does render the body sort of genderless, the choice to say "boy" instead of "person" means that we were all assumed to be male, as if no woman would be flying.

It isn't just the non-flying public that makes that kind of mistake, either. I went to a dinner with a bunch of other paragliders to discuss the upcoming season. It had been a "pilots only" invitation – so we don't bore the grounded ones with constant flying talk – but one of them mentioned that if he'd known I was coming, he would have brought his (non-flying) spouse. Luckily, someone besides me reminded him that I was a pilot too.

It is undeniable that there are more men than women in the sport. It was hard to find numbers, but one international paragliding and hanggliding forum concluded that around 10% of paragliding pilots are women (the percentage is probably even lower for hanggliding). I was the only woman doing the P2 training my first year with iParaglide, though there were other women doing hill training and the Discovery Solo program. There doesn't appear to be a lot of female pilots on the launches either; I can only think of six other female pilots I see regularly at my home mountain.

Generally, I don't mind hanging out with the guys. Most paragliders of both genders are friendly, easy-going, and fun. The problem with the lack of women, in my opinion, is that it makes it harder for other women to imagine they can be a part of this wonderful sport. There are probably a number of complex, interconnected reasons as to why there are fewer women than men, but the lack of visible female pilots probably doesn't help. There's one particularly prominant female pilot in our area. She's a tandem pilot and flies in national and international competititions. She's nice to everyone, but I've noticed that she's especially welcoming to other women and always makes an effort to greet me. Similarly, there's a woman in California who runs occasional women-only flying courses and there's a website dedicated to women in paragliding.

We may be few, but we are pretty supportive, and we all seem to know that the way to get more women into paragliding is to be visibly women already in paragliding. That's why I'll volunteer at iParaglide's booth at The Outdoor Adventure Show again this year, that's why I always talk to the new female students, that's why I talk to kids on the kiting field and make sure they see that I'm a girl, and that's why I wear a pink helmet.