Paragliding with Captain Daniel Walters, CF-18 Hornet Pilot, 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron
I'm Daniel Walters, an active military pilot, and had been interested in trying paragliding for some time.
I was planning to take a couple weeks of leave in the Vancouver area so I did a little bit of research on paragliding schools in the area. iParaglide stood out mostly because of its professional website. It was well organized and gave me the impression that this was a serious operation, particularly with respect to safety. I contacted Dion and in addition to answering all my questions, I could tell he was passionate about the sport of paragliding and took his safety record very seriously. He was also able to accommodate my rather inflexible dates and agreed to put me through the HPAC Novice Paragliding Certification training within two weeks in his Top Gun total immersion program.
Prior to actually heading to the mountain, we covered theory and progressed through ground handling to training hill sites. The pace was excellent and it was clear that Dion tailors his training to his individual paragliding students. There were never more than about 6 students at a time, and on a few days we were one on one. The progression from smaller training hills to larger ones gave me much more confidence in my forward and reverse paragliding launches when it finally came time to head to the mountains.
When we first went to the mountains we didn't cut any corners. Prior to heading to the launch site we walked around the paragliding landing zone, discussed approach patterns and landing technique in varying wind conditions. Likewise, at the launch, we always took the time to discuss the entire paragliding flight and any peculiarities.
All the flights were done with radio control from the ground, initially with one instructor at the launch and another at the landing zone. The flights progressed naturally from having the paragliding instructors call every turn to saying very little towards the end of the training. Again, it was clear that Dion tailored his training to individual's capabilities and comfort levels. He provided an exposure to some more advanced paragliding maneuvers, as well as coaching me through the techniques of soaring and thermalling. I had several flights up to cloud base lasting well over an hour, a level to which I had not expected to progress in such a short timeframe.
One of Dion's strengths from another pilot's point of view was his judgment of paragliding weather. He did an excellent job of discussing the finer points of small scale weather while instilling in us a good sense of when to go flying and when to just wait it out or call it a day. I felt very comfortable that every time I went flying the paragliding conditions were appropriate for my skill level. On a couple of occasions, students from other paragliding schools launched after we had decided to wait out, and after seeing their launches, I was very happy with the decision. Dion's knowledge of the local area paragliding weather also helped us stay on schedule. When the weather was questionable at the primary site, Dion called it early and we had great flying days at another site. I was very happy that despite several bad weather days, Dion was able to safely put me through the full HPAC Novice paragliding certification program in just 7 training days of my two week stay in Vancouver.
Paragliding turned out to be every bit as fulfilling as I had hoped. It has excitement on par with flying a military jet but is much more natural. The feeling of flying your paraglider in the open air, feeling every bit of air movement around you, as you share a thermal with a hawk or eagle is indescribable.
Thanks Dion, for the tailored, exciting, well-paced, but above all safe flying experience!
Captain Daniel Walters, 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron
Shared Paragliding Tandem with Johanna Ward, The Express
"Wow, what an amazing flight! I don't know how to explain what paragliding feels like to you. Maybe it will be the transportation of the future? Maybe it is an amazing way to feel more a part of the universe as a whole? Maybe it's just something you should try...
We have just flown down from Mt. Woodside with iParaglide. Described as one of the most fulfilling adventure sports: that would be paragliding. And if you want to take a flight, I'm sure if you ask Dion, he'll take you out. Just visit him on-line. The best West Coast adventure? Paragliding of course! And I guess next on my to-do-list in life, I'm going to have to learn to paraglide by myself. Maybe get in on the Top Gun Flight School. "
Top Gun iP2 Novice Certification with Shayne Courtright, Cirque du Soleil
Flying High with Terry Bell, THE PROVINCE
- Terry Bell, The Province