September 15, 2008


"I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things . "

Antoine De Saint Exupery

OK, so I did it - spent an hour in the air in a high performance glider, fulfilling a dream I have had since I was a young boy. Soon after I learned to read and discovered the adventures held in my local library, I began reading a series of books about the exploits of bush pilots in Northern Ontario. I forget how many books there were, but the whole experience fired up my juices for doing something that challenged and excited me. That was also a time when avionics and the possibilities of space flight, Buck Rogers and travel to other worlds was starting to stir the imagination of the world. The space race began when I was in grade school and I briefly flirted with a career as an aeronautical engineer (airline passengers everywhere can be thankful that I didn't do that) but at some point, I discovered information about gliders and how they worked. Like many areas of interest, I did nothing about it and other than on one occasion, never pursued flight in small craft of any kind even though I harboured a wish to learn to fly.

Over the past 10 years, I have played golf and visited the Invermere Valley of BC many times and often stopped to watch the tow planes taking up gliders from the air field but it wasn't until our friends, Bob and Rose told us that they had taken a ride in a glider from the same location, that it occurred to me to think about doing the same. I mentioned last spring that I thought that I would do the same this summer and was informed that, indeed a flight had already been booked for my birthday - WOW! And WOW, is the right description - it was everything I imagined and more. A crystal clear Saturday afternoon (following a flight cancellation due to rain on Friday) and I was loaded into the back seat of an incredibly sleek craft with the call numbers 007 (I thought about wearing a tux and drinking a martini). The tow plane hauled us up to 8,000 feet and we let go into a steep right turn and a view of the mountains that took my breath away. No, it's not like flying in an airplane - it's so much more intimate and personal and fantastic and also much safer - consider what would happen if an airplane lost an engine. A glider can stay up forever.

In any case, the hour went way too fast and it was all that I had ever hoped for....until next year when I want to glide over the glaciers west of the valley. Next up though....introductory scuba!

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