Mt. Seven lower launch at 9 km or 9k launch
Altitude: 5120'ASL; 1560 m ASL. Height: 2525'; 770 m.
Coordinates NAD 83: UTM 11 U 5681202 m N; 506944 m E
Coordinates WGS84: 51.28211° N; 116.90043° W
WGS84 for SAR: 51° 16.9266' N; 116° 54.0258' W
Small launch pad on the ground with not much room to spare. Can put together four hang gliders at a time. Accommodate winds west to south or light wind (any direction) with good thermals to compensate. Difficult for paragliders because the slope is short with trees on each side. Paragliders may have to land in the previously mentioned gravel pit if they can't climb. This launch is used in the spring when the pilots can't wait for the road higher up to clear of snow. Not recommended for beginners.
Mt. Seven main launch site - the Lookout
Altitude: 6370'ASL; 1942 m ASL. Height: 3780'; 1152 m.
Coordinates NAD 83: UTM 11 U 5680474.428 m N; 507967.656 m E
Coordinates WGS84: 51.27555° N; 116.88577° W
WGS84 for SAR: 51° 16.533' N; 116° 53.1462' W
[...] The time to worry is [...] before a flight. Decide then whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying. To worry is to add another hazard. It retards reactions, makes one unfit. [...]
- Amelia Earhart, from Last Flight by Amelia Earhart, 1937.
There are three launching pads at the Lookout: the north ground (N on photo), the west ramp (R on photo) and the south ground (S on photo). Accommodates takeoffs in winds coming from north, west, and south. More precisely, from north to south-southeast. Their exact orientations are in fact respectively northwest, southwest, and southeast.
The old north ramp (X on photo) does not exist anymore.
Paragliders prefer the north ground when the wind comes from between north and southwest. They sometimes succeed in more southerly winds when the thermals have the air flow wrap around to go upward the northwest side. Must be careful though, it's a little more risky.
The slope of the north ground is rather gentle hence requiring a good run in light wind.
Hang gliders prefer the west ramp in winds west to south. Rather simple to take off. Prudence still asks to take the time to choose well the takeoff run moment. In thermal conditions, we notice sometimes sudden changes in the wind force and direction. The air may go so straight up then, that it does not circulate well on the ramp.
Avoid using the northwest side of the ramp (photo), especially in light wind. The ground is a bit close at the end. Use the north ground instead. And obviously, when the wind is too cross for the ramp, it's time to take off from the ground.
The south ground launch is a bit unnerving because it is short and some trees are left standing, right in front. The trees impair the air flow, causing some turbulence. This launch also leads to an almost vertical slope. A cliff takeoff technique may apply. Fortunately, the wind is not south too often.
Tip: Try to start your takeoff in order to benefit from a stronger and more regular wind cycle. You want as much air speed as possible, quickly, to maximize control. Remember to keep your wings level and correct any improper wing attitude during takeoff, the cause of so many crashes.
Be careful on thermal days. The wind may change direction rapidly, especially if it is affected by counter forces from thermals. The heat also reduces the lift on such days. Days like this cause most accidents on launch, even amongst experts. Maintain awareness.
In any case, watch for possible turbulence or shear in the wind shadow of trees and bushes.
Beginners will find the site very suitable for them before and after the great thermal conditions of the afternoon. Typically in the summer, thermals begin at around 2:00 pm and get strong enough after 3:00 pm. Thermals usually begin to weaken at around 6:00 pm to become easily manageable during the evening. Lift may last until sunset or later. Often, mount Seven "gives" continual lift locally while Kapristo mountain, next to the south, would sink you down.
The Lookout is a recreation site enjoyed by us and mountain bikers, hikers, motorcyclists, photographs, sightseers, and other animals. The outhouse (T on photo) is not anymore. There is a big one with four seats, at the large parking. To free some space, please unload your needed equipment at the Lookout and bring your vehicle down to the large parking.
Mount Seven upper launch site
Altitude: 7577'ASL; 2310 m ASL. Height: 4987'; 1520 m.
Coordinates NAD 83: UTM 11 U 5678403.927 m N; 509777.847 m E
Coordinates WGS84: 51.25751° N; 116.8614° W
WGS84 for SAR: 51° 15.4146' N; 116° 51.5928' W
The wide-open launch is suited in northwest to south wind. Watch your lines on the sharp scree that covers the launch area, this is no place to cut a line. You can also launch from the saddle just behind the main launch, but be wary of rotor as you move out in front through the gap.
Note the strong thermals produced close to that launch in the cliffs below. This means that the anabatic wind picks up earlier than at the Lookout and get much stronger, fast. Consequently, when the air is sufficiently unstable in the summer, the wind becomes too strong for paragliders to take off, as early as noon to as late as 8:00 pm sometimes, while it's marvelous at the Lookout.
The landing zone
Altitude: 2590'ASL; 790 m ASL. Height: 0'; 0 m.
Coordinates NAD 83: UTM 11 U 5676926.592 m N; 505619.991 m E
Coordinates WGS84: 51.24368° N; 116.91949° W
WGS84 for SAR: 51° 14.6208' N; 116° 55.1694' W
GEAR manager (since automn 2011)
Trina Wolfenden was born and raised in Nicholson just doors down from the Eco adventure ranch and has spent many hours on horseback enjoying the valley. Fueled by a passion for people, Trina took an Adventure Tourism and Business Management certificate and started Flying W Trail Rides with her family. In the summer, Trina and her family care for the Eco Adventure Ranch and they like to meet everyone coming to GEAR.
The designated landing zone, if you don't fly cross country or if you do an out-and-return, is in Nicholson. It's the large field directly north of the big Y of roads in Nicholson, west of the Columbia river (LZ/ATT on photo). The parking is on gravel at the south-west corner. Do not park on McBeath road. Notice that we do not share the field with horses anymore.
Since October 2003, the large property in Nicholson that includes the landing zone is owned by Columbia View Homes Ltd. This company is itself controlled by John McIsaac and Cathy-Anne David, whom have paragliding skills. These developers are integrating a flight park, named Muller flight park (MFP), with other adventures. The official ribbon cutting opening was 2005 July 2nd. The whole is dubbed N.E.A.R. for Nicholson eco-adventure ranch, or is it G.E.A.R. for Golden? Meh, whichever. Anyway, as a consequence of investment, they now require pilots to sign their own waiver and have current membership of the HPAC to land. Visit their Eco-Adventure Ranch website for many more details and to get a copy of their waiver.
John, Cathy-Anne, and family expressed their pride in securing the landing zone for future generations, making mount 7 a tried and true destination.
Things to watch for during the approach and on landing:
- Electric cables run along the road and on the west side of the LZ to the house.
- Sinking air near the river. Particularly early in season, when the glacial water is flooding the marshes.
- The trees are high and produce turbulence as far as half the field length when windy.
- On a thermally afternoon, the wind becomes very variable in strength and direction in the LZ. Watch the wind-socks closely. Avoid a downwind landing, crosswind is better. Keep the speed up, correct rolls especially in finale.
- Ground squirrels (scientific name Spermophilus Columbianus, english name Columbian ground squirrel is a native species, a rocky mountain variety) have reproduced a bit much and their holes may pose a risk when running. Be careful, some areas have more and bigger holes.
- Early and late in the year, ie. from october to june, horses are grazing in the landing zone. They are kept by a small electric line placed along the edge of the nice turf. Watch for the line that is not very visible. It's okay to land inside the enclosure if you avoid the horses.
Neighbours and visitors enjoy the sight of hang gliders and paragliders landings. Have a good one but keep good humor if you miss. Moreover, they may save you in case of a crash. See advices how to land with a hang glider.
At a 4:1 glide from the Lookout, the landing zone (LZ) is easily accessible most of the time. As a rule of thumb, when you are at the height of the west butte, you should head toward the landing. However, flying is not always so easy. Paragliders fly much slower than hang gliders, consequently come short of the LZ most often. It happens every year. The lack of penetration in an increasing head wind is the principal reason, bad judgment comes second. However, in moderate (or stronger) south wind, paragliders simply must land elsewhere. Also, after taking off from the lower launch or when scratching low at the kilometer 5 cliffs, the landing of choice becomes the gravel pit. Hang gliders: avoid the alternates LZ unless you're in serious trouble (thunderstorm, for example). They are small; a crash would be too likely. Although, a good drag parachute could possibly help.
The Nicholson LZ is the best. Keep in mind to have enough altitude in reserve to glide to it. Otherwise, if need be, the higher you are, better is the choice of alternatives.
These alternatives are:
- The gravel pit (G on photo)
Coordinates NAD 83: UTM 11 U 5681753.413 m N; 503734.829 m E
Coordinates WGS84: 51.28709° N; 116.94648° W
WGS84 for SAR: 51° 17.2254' N; 116° 56.7888' W
Used all the time for the aforementioned reasons or simply for convenience. Good in light or south winds. Airplane traffic will fly right above it during their landing circuit, so fly with an aircraft radio and/or make a low (relative to airplanes) approach from the mountain side. Watch also for wind shear. In stronger northerly wind, prefer the next option.
- The CPR ditch grass strip
Small grass strip between the CPR yard and Highway #95 (between arrows in the close-up views), on the other side of the road from the south end of Reflection lake. It has a big wind-sock on the west side and barely any obstacles to the northerly air flow. Preferred in strong winds from the north when the Nicholson LZ is too far. (Although normally, the Nicholson LZ is really easy to reach in north wind!) Watch for the lampposts and the electric wire line. Your approach must be perfect.
- The soccer field
On the plateau just north of the gravel pit. Grassy but many obstacles around, avoid landing in the adjacent baseball fields: full of fences. Watch for wind shears and turbulences, even when not so windy. Probably worse than the gravel pit for it.
- The swampy area just north of the LZ (M in LZ photo)
Can save you from damage and injuries. If you seriously doubt crossing the tree patch, land before it. The trees are high and hurt. Flooded in the spring, the swamp becomes almost dry by the end of July in the vicinity of the trees and the walk through the woods is relatively easy.
Other small places are not recommended for visitors. Do not risk your bones for a longer flight. You can always go back up for another. However, if your wing collapsed, closed, or other (rather paragliding catastrophe), nobody thoughtful will annoy you for the emergency landing you chose...
[...] From all I can gather, the general opinion is that the Wright starting rail is the best. It can be laid almost anywhere in a few minutes and occupies hardly any space in width and not much in length.
Starting on wheels, on the contrary necessitates an almost perfectly level tract of ground, and a very long one, from 500 to 1000 yards, it is variously estimated. This difficulty seems almost insurmountable in many places, where it would be quite easy to use the starting rail [...]
- Correspondent, from Wright starting rail favored in Dayton Herald, 1909 feb.
[...] The size of the field required now is approximatively fifteen times what it was in 1910. [...] The fast machines are perfectly safe when flown over specially prepared fields, but there are only a small number of such fields in the entire country. It is this uneasiness about safe landings that has spoiled flying as a sport. [...] If enough landing places were available, present types of airplanes would be practicable both for sport and for commerce. But on account of the great cost involved we can hardly hope for them in the near future. It, therefore, seems more feasible to modify the machines, so that they can be landed on almost any ordinary field that one would encounter in the course of an extended cross-country flight.
- Orville Wright, from Sporting future of the airplane - Reduced landing speeds an essential factor in U.S. Air Service magazine, Vol. I, No. 1, 1919 feb.
Any free flight pilot living near a big center knows how much airports and their airspaces can restrict, if not forbid, our flights. They have big buffer zones to insure the safety of the air travelling public. This is mainly due to the IFR traffic, very fast, heavy, and blind.
Local airports are the least restrictive. They require only radio contact and permission in the smallest open airspace. However, an airport implies a higher density of traffic in its vicinity. Consequently, keep your eyes and ears open in particular near the usual routes taken by the traffic.
Golden airport (CYGE)
Coord. WGS84: 51.299167° N; 116.982221° O
Uncontrolled, managed by Golden. MF (mandatory frequency) 122,8 MHz in the airport traffic frequency (ATF, see CAR 602.97) zone of 5 NM (nautical miles, makes 9,3 km) radius up to 5600'ASL (1707 m above sea level). Although it is class G airspace, avoid flying close to the runway. Do not land at the airport unless you have permission and radio contact. The traffic, mainly helicopters and small planes, may exceed 30 takeoffs/landings on a good day and is fast and hard to see. Its location is indicated by "A--port" on the photo of Golden, previous section.
The surroundings are mostly class G airspace where aircrafts use the en route frequency 126,7 MHz. We use the very light aircrafts frequency 123,4 MHz. Class G airspace also means that there is no restrictions on VFR flights (us included) other than VFR (visual flight rules). Few restricted areas for blasting indicated on the aeronautical map. All details published by Transport Canada.
Invermere airport (CAA8)
Coord. WGS84: 50.521° N; 116.0056° O
Uncontrolled, managed by Babin Air. A (advisory) 123,2 MHz in the ATF zone of 5 NM (9,3 km) radius up to 5800'ASL (1770 m ASL). This airport is private; do not land there without permission nor without radio contact. Regular operations: Babin Air Ltd , Bighorn Helicopters, Invermere Soaring Centre . Traffic denser than Golden's and includes student pilots, small airplanes, sailplanes. On good days, the sailplane traffic could be organized on the very light aircraft frequency (123,4 MHz).
[...] I began to feel that my long-range flying was becoming pretty sissy. The ease and casualness were further accentuated by the marvellous help given by radio. [...]
- Amelia Earhart, from Last Flight by Amelia Earhart, 1937.
Radios are strongly recommended even if you fly only locally. The mountain is big, a crash could go unnoticed and locating a victim could take too long. See details in Emergencies. You should have the appropriate radiotelephone operator certificate (ROC), either aeronautical or radio amateur. The aeronautical ROC is the simplest and most appropriate. Contact Industry Canada for details.
Read the radio communications information circulars RIC-21 (aeronautical) or RIC-2 and RIC-3 (radio amateurs) published on their website. (Tip: do a search with RIC-21 as keyword, the Strategis website is huge!) A direct link is found in the Contacts & links table.
|Aircraft radio frequencies|
|Very light aircrafts frequency* (includes us):
|Golden airport ATF, unicom:
|En route frequency:
|Invermere airport ATF, tfc:
|*Air-air and air-ground. For Hang gliders, paragliders, sailplanes, ultralights and balloons, in Canada.
**Air-air. 123,45 is used in the arctic. USA suggest a different one (123,025) for helicopters.
Aircraft radio frequencies (ROC needed)
Aircraft radios themselves do not require a licence nor registration when operated in the context of flight or soaring, only the operator.
Sailplanes from Invermere may use the Invermere airport ATF frequency 123,2 MHz or the soaring frequency 123,4 MHz in the Invermere ATF zone and use 123,4 when flying cross country. They may switch to 122,8 MHz in the Golden ATF, near our site. Be aware, they are silent and also hunt for thermals.
Emergencies: do not switch frequency if you are already in contact with someone that can help. However, know that the universal distress frequency is the most monitored on earth. In addition of the terrestrial stations, airliners and some satellites are listening to it.
Amateur radio frequency (ROC needed)
- Please use: 173,64 MHz - on the VHF band of mobile service. Hence not subjected to the restrictions imposed on amateur band. It is a private commercial band for tracking operations on a shared non-interference basis with Royal Canadian Golf and Ski Patrols. The HPAC obtained permission for us to use this frequency.
- Or use: 146,46 MHz - in the amateur band. Please be aware that anyone using this frequency will need to have received their official amateur radio authorization, else use of this frequency is illegal, no matter what the use of it is for. If anyone causes interference in any way, Industry Canada will know, and will contact us.
- Since 2005, the radio itself does not need a licence anymore.
- Should be limited to ground-ground communications (illegal to emit in altitude). Not recommended in aircrafts communications, but is better than nothing.
|FRS and GMRS Frequencies (MHz)|
|462,5500||15 - GMRS||467,550||GMRS**|
|462,5625||1 - FRS/GMRS||467,5625||8 - FRS|
|462,5750||16 - GMRS||467,5750||GMRS**|
|462,5875||2 - FRS/GMRS||467,5875||9 - FRS|
|462,6000||17 - GMRS||467,6000||GMRS**|
|462,6125||3 - FRS/GMRS||467,6125||10 - FRS|
|462,6250||18 - GMRS||467,6250||GMRS**|
|462,6375||4 - FRS/GMRS||467,6375||11 - FRS|
|462,6500||19 - GMRS||467,6500||GMRS**|
|462,6625||5 - FRS/GMRS||467,6625||12 - FRS|
|462,6750||20 - GMRS||467,6750||GMRS**|
|462,6875||6 - FRS/GMRS||467,6875||13 - FRS|
|462,7000||21 - GMRS||467,7000||GMRS**|
|462,7125||7 - FRS/GMRS||467,7125||14 - FRS|
|462,7250||22 - GMRS||467,7250||GMRS**|
|*Example, as channel numbers may differ with models and makes.
**Reserved for possible future use as repeater input channels and are not available for simplex communications.
FRS and GMRS
- These newer families of FM frequencies were created to fullfill the great need for good handheld 2-way radios by the public. Family radio service (FRS) was created first with low ranges, by restricting power to 0,5 watts.
- Soon after, the need for more range made governments add a more potent frequencies service called general mobile radio service (GMRS), restricted at 5 or 2 watts.
- Note that GMRS radios can emit in FRS as well. The power is restricted on the frequencies, not the radios. GMRS frequencies will have repeater access. See table.
- These radios are free to use and do not require any permit.
- Make sure you're on the same frequency with a friend.
- Mobile telephone service now covers practically all the valley and is improving.
- There is also a wireless internet system developing in the valley.
Flying mount 7
[...] we have both a strong and intoxicating impression of speed, to be absolutely master of our machine, to be able to have it follow the most capricious curves, and, moreover, we have this sensation of well being, of lightness, this magnificient view [...]
- Paul Tissandier, from Les premiers élèves de l'homme-oiseau in La vie au grand air, 1909 march 13.
[...] The first sensation on leaving the ground is that which you feel when a particularly speedy elevator starts up with you from the ground floor. But the movement is smoother; it always reminds me of a gliding dream. Then when you get higher and the ground begins to look like an inverted saucer and the folks below like flies crawling about its bottom, and when the aero begins to soar in magnificent reaches — ah! I tell you, that's great! [...]
- Katharine Wright, from Miss Wright goes flying; meets kings in The Boston American, 1909 april 12.
[...] A man's nerves must be steady to fly, and it is possible that he lost his head through some trivial incident. We warned the lieutenant [Galderara] not to venture many feet up until he was thoroughly familiar with every idiosyncrasy of his machine. [...]
- Orville Wright, from Air navigators home — Wright brothers return to teach american soldiers how to fly., in Record-Herald, 1909 may 12.
[...] I was tremendously impressed with the wonderful power of that strange invention, which seemed so flimsily flung together, and yet, under the guidance of Mr. Wilbur Wright, acted like some tamed wild thing, answering to his touch and sensible to his control. [...]
- Mrs Belleville, from Impressions gained in aeroplane flight — What one woman experienced in a voyage with Wilbur Wright, in Toledo Blade, 1909 june 28.
[...] Those that have once tasted this kind of fare will not forget it ever. Not so, my friends? It is not a question of living dangerously. That formula is too arrogant, too presumptuous. I don't care much for bull-fighters. It's not the danger I love. I know what I love. It is life itself. [...]
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, in Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939. (Translation by Lewis Galantière, of Terre des hommes, 1938.).
[...] I think it is a pity to lose the romantic side of flying and simply to accept it as a common means of transport, although that end is what we have all ostensibly been striving to attain. [...]
- Amy Johnson, in Sky Roads of the World, 1939.
Flying in the Rockies is not flying in the plains. It can be easier and more challenging at the same time. The wind may stir the air in altitude, or cause a venturi in the valleys. Local effects of many kinds may please or scare.
In high mountains like the Rockies, the meteo wind has a tendancy to circulate above the highest peaks. Mountains are obstacles. In summer, when the sun shine, mountains slopes warm and constantly produce thermals. Mountains will hence create an ascending wind continuously with air coming from the valleys. This air circulation up is called anabatic. According to the well known saying of Lavoisier, nothing is lost, nothing is created, all is transformed. The valleys bottoms must fill with air and there is no other place than up to take it, elsewhere. The valleys center, shaded slopes and mountains lee-sides allow this descending circulation. This is called a catabatic wind. Moreover, after sunset, the air circulation reverses, often in less than 15 minutes. Hence, generally, the valley wind will be different from the takeoff wind and the wind in flight. Obviously there is a correlation between meteo wind and local winds but it is not direct. We can imagine how the air will circulate according to conditions and locations but it is not always easy nor obvious. These are the main differences between flying in the mountains compared to flying in the plains.
[...] It only takes five years to go from rumor to standard operating procedure. [...]
- Dick Markgraf, in source not found yet.
In addition to the tips and warnings in previous sections, here are, in this section and the next, reminders of some specificities of flying mount Seven, in the Rockies.
- On most days, the area of the antenna (under the A of the photo of Golden), just northwest of the lookout, generates strong and regular thermals. Less true in south winds.
- Be extra careful on windy days (15 km/h or less does not count as windy!). Winds aloft and in the valley may be higher and of different directions. Consider postponing or cancelling your flight. Observe the weather conditions. Evaluate the performances of your glider, your experience, your skills and the risks you are willing to assume.
- On certain very good days, thermals can hit brutally and flip you like a pancake. Keep the speed up and accelerate further when entering the thermals. This should prevent stalling and help maintain control. Paragliders: follow the recommendations of the manufacturer or the advance manoeuvres instructor regarding your wing.
- Always fly high and far enough above ground to clear it in case of stall, sinking air or nudging by thermals or turbulence. This is very true above rocky terrain and on the lee side of mountains. Paragliders: "Scratch" the mountains at an altitude sufficient to recover from a full collapse and more! A few tree themselves every year. Try to avoid being one of these. Here, in the (relatively) high mountains, thermals do not lick the ground much but the sinks do! And please, fly with a radio if you cherish your life! See next two recommendations.
- Trees are tall in the west! Think ahead and carry a rope long enough - at least 30 m (100') - to come down a tree yourself. A rescue crew may take a while to arrive even if they are alerted. More about this topic in the Emergencies section.
- Flying with a radio is advised for many reasons including safety. Please limit your transmissions to useful statements. We recommend the aircraft band radios which have proven reliable over very long distances, let you talk to other aircraft, have emergency frequency, etc.
Please read the pilot's etiquette section.
HPAC third party liability Insurance is required to use the launch sites & the landing zone.
Canadian residents buy it from the HPAC (Hang gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada, aka ACVL).
Out of country visitors can buy the temporary coverage (30 days: $40).
You can obtain them directly from the HPAC or, if necessary, contact in here the LZ office or Serge Lamarche.
Don't forget to subscribe to the contingency fund as described in Emergencies.
Profits from sale of shirts go to the site fund. I am particularly thinking about improvements of the north ground. I have a couple of designed shirts for sale. Contact me (Serge) at email@example.com to order or buy in person. These items could also possibly be found at the landing zone's office/store. Plain donations are also gratefully accepted, of course. You can donate right now, online, with Paypal:
Cross country flights
[...] men have never ceased to envy the birds and long for the day when they too might rise above the dust or mud of the highways and fly through the clean air of the heavens. Once above the treetops, the narrow roads no longer arbitrarily fix the course. The earth is spread out before the eye with a richness of color and beauty of pattern never imagined by those who have gazed at the landscape edgewise only. The view of the ordinary traveler is as inadequate as that of an ant crawling over a magnificent rug. The rich brown of freshly-turned earth, the lighter shades of dry ground, the still lighter browns and yellows of ripening crops, the almost innumerable shades of green produced by grasses and forests, together present a sight whose beauty [...]
- Wilbur Wright, from a short article in Scientific American, 1908 February 29.
[...] I was so struck by the beauty of the scenery that I experienced a yearning to strike right out towards the lofty Pyrénées and fly right over them. [...]
- Wilbur Wright, from Mr. Wright's aerodrome - Flights on the new ground at Pau in Dayton Herald, 1909 February 3.
[...] It is, of course, a hot country, with broad stretches of arid desert land, hemmed by regions rough and mountainous. And all beautiful. For from the air, the broad views, of whatever country, ever changing, ever shifting in coloring, light and shadow hold beauty which only the willfully blind could ignore. [...]
- Amelia Earhart, from Last Flight by Amelia Earhart, 1937.
Be nice to yourself and pass the test HAGAR from Transport Canada . Some instructors offer courses to prepare and three study guides are available to help you: one by Transport Canada and two by fellows free flight pilots. See the HAGAR page of the HPAC . It can only help you understand the aerial traffic and our place in it. The HAGAR annotation is required to fly in airspaces of classes B, C, D and E. The classes B, C et D airspaces require in addition usage of an aircraft radio; B, C require authorization from the control tower, hence rarely flown in free flight. These restricted airspaces are found especially near the international airport of Cranbrook (CYXC) , far enough from the mountains. Several class E airspaces are found along our route in distances. The V304 and V317 airways cross our path around Spillimacheen and Radium creating wide class E areas with floor at 2200 ft AGL and of class B above 12 500 ft ASL or above the MEA (minimum enroute altitude), if higher. More to the south, Cranbrook airport and several airways affect the airspace from Fairmont and even more near Canal Flats until Jaffray. It's then class G until Whitefish, in the United States, but there we are far enough to claim the record of the site! Peter Spear superposed all the canadian airspaces on Google map , it is worth a look.
Also, once again, fly with a radio, preferably in the aircraft band. Provide help to others. Ask for help if needed, do not let a bad situation deteriorate.
After a cross country flight, register your flight in the BC cross country league. Since 2004, cross country flights done in British Columbia are eligible for money prizes thanks to private donations from pilots managed by the provincial association. It's a good way to encourage cross country flights and see their evolution. Enter and details on this page hosted by the WCSC.
Here are more recommendations:
- For a good start, try to get high above the mount Seven peak to cross the gap to the next mountain, mount Kapristo. This way you will fly above the venturi in the Horse creek gap and the probable sink around mount Kapristo's west cliffs (near Pagliaro rd).
- Do not allow yourself to drift behind any peak in a thermal unless you are at safe height, say 500' (150 m) or more above it, and the angle (say 45°) will let you glide out easily to the valley. The venturi of the peaks and the sinks of the lee sides are to be avoided. A crash or just a forced landing over there could become a catastrophe for the pilot. Walking out could take more than a day.
- In general, if you are getting lower than the peaks, think about heading to the valley. Keep an eye to at least one suitable landing area you can be sure to glide to. It is always preferable to land near the highway. Otherwise, you may have to walk for hours.
- The valley bottom climbs slowly (70 m) from 2590'ASL (790 m ASL) at the Nicholson LZ to 2820'ASL (860 m ASL) at the Invermere airport, 100 km away. The elevation difference of the river is only 50' (15 m) for the same distance.
- Continually monitor the wind directions as indicated by water areas on the ground, and clouds and thermal drifts in altitude. Usually, the winds switch from west to south down the range near Harrogate. Sudden changes in force and direction are common when fronts are closing in or thunderstorms are present. Check with the cloud type. Some huge thunderstorms located east of Field have sucked the air so strongly in the valley that they turned a north wind into a strong south wind in Nicholson. Also, air masses may spill ahead of the fronts inside the valleys. The spill thereby creates a wave travelling along the valley, sometimes accompanied by gusts of excessive strength. An advice that seems to work if you get caught flying in this, is to head downwind in the hope to land ahead of the "gust front" and have time to secure yourself and fold your wing.
- Maybe more than the wind direction, verify the slope of the chosen field to land. Landing up slope is recommended in the large majority of the cases. If the wind contradict the slope direction, it could be wise to land with a cross-wind component and up slope.
- Avoid landings on peak tops unless it's a case of emergency or you are well prepared for the adventure (camping gear, repair kit, etc.) and have radio contact with someone you trust. If you are unable to relaunch, walking down could take the night and the helicopter retrieval would cost you.
- There are plenty of fields on the way to Windermere except between Brisco and Edgewater. This stretch is also more difficult to pass because the mountain range split at Spillimacheen (see photo) into smaller ones, valley side.
- Be aware that wires cross some fields. Watch for poles on each side. Some may be hidden in the trees. Paragliders may prefer to land on road edges instead of crop fields. Make an approach that leaves options, an alternate field for example...
Talking electric lines, a field not much used because small for starter now has two electric fences running through. It's the field at Horse Creek. Photo in the May 2007 news. To avoid, Naturally. Horse creek flows between mount 7 and Kapristo into the Columbia river.
- The owners in general and at Brisco particularly do not like to see us land in grown fields. Try to choose your landing accordingly. For example, if possible, land and fold your wing in fields or spots that are not maintained or grow poorly for some reason. Sometimes, the owner may appreciate you offer to pay for damages, if any ($5-$10). Please do so only if the owner comes to you and there is actual damage (very rare). This is more of a problem in June, before the first harvests. Note: some fields are rented.
Regarding this, one owner came talk to me about a few pilots, paragliders and hang gliders, that landed in a field of his while grown, in the middle of it or even in the corn patch. His field has a large watering pipe and is located about 24 km from takeoff. He's okay with landing after the harvests (two per year), in the bad corners, or on his other field, a narrow one by the river.
Coord. WGS84: 51.09075° N; 116.68000° W
WGS84 for SAR: 51° 05.445' N; 116° 40.800' W
- Between Spillimacheen and Radium, fly the back range only if you are sure you can glide to the front range in case of headwind and sink. That is something like a 1:1 glide. Once again you are the best judge of the situation. You should know your wing and yourself more than anybody else. Sink of over 5 m/s (1000 ft/min.) is common along the ridge, and landings are practically non-existent between these ridges and rare in the valley in this area. Always keep a safety margin.
- Take note: the two large fields not far south of Edgewater are restricted areas: about 86 km from takeoff, both sides of the highway. There is a bizarre problem with these owners. Don't land there (see photo). They span about 0,6 km2 and are approximately located at:
Coord. NAD 83: UTM 11 U 5613875 m N; 563125 m E
Coord. WGS84: 50.67607° N; 116.10351° W
WGS84 for SAR: 50° 40.5642' N; 116° 06.2106' W
- Landing in the first long field on the west side of the highway immediately north of Edgewater is fine (see photo, marked in blue). The new owner is quite friendly. The field is now equiped with an artificial pond. Always stay nice with people where you land. However, a couple of places are not recommended in Edgewater as they are unfriendly. But they're unlikely to be used because of their location or their bad quality. One is the golf course. The other is just north of the mill on the east side and of angled and rolling terrain.
- Another field that doesn't cause problem: Harrogate.
- If you do not have a retrieval team, take note: after sunset the traffic on highways 95 and 93 becomes very sparse, especially on weekdays. Hitchhiking may get so bad you would have to spend the night there. There is a regular bus doing a late route from Cranbrook to Golden. It stops in Radium. The driver may stop for you if you clearly show your intention to be a paying client and there is space to pull the bus on the side of the road without blocking the traffic. The price is around $20 from Radium. Inquire to the bus company for the schedule and the price. It usually passes before sunset in July.
Week days, a community bus service serves the valley and Golden. Two routes come back through Parson at around 18:00 (6 pm). A bit early for good flights, but useful nonetheless. Cost is $2,50 and have the correct change with you.
- Repeat: Flying with a radio is advised for many reasons including safety. Please limit your transmissions to useful statements. We recommend the aircraft band radios which have proven reliable over very long distances, let you talk to other aircrafts, have emergency frequency, etc. Radios on the GMRS frequencies are also recommended for their ease, reliability, range, free usage and low cost.
Please read the pilot's etiquette section.
[...] The man who wishes to keep at the problem long enough to really learn anything, positively must not take dangerous risks. Carelessness and overconfidence are usually more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks. I am constructing my machine to sustain about five times my weight and am testing every piece. I think there is no possible chance of its breaking while in the air. If it is broken it will be by awkward landing. [...]
- Wilbur Wright, from a letter to his father, from kitty Hawks, 1900 September 23.
[...] The sport will not be without some element of danger, but with a good machine this danger need not be excessive [...]
- Wilbur Wright, 1908.
[...] "It is superhuman how you can remain on the machine for over two hours. I was only up for four minutes and already I am almost frozen. And what a sense of security there is; absolute security." [said Barthou, French minister of Public Works, after the flight.]
"Yes," replied Wilbur Wright. "You are safer on my aeroplane than on your railroads."* [...]
- Reporter, from How Wilbur Wright won the Michelin prize in The Automobile, 1909 jan 14.
[...] Among the regular visitors to the aerodrome is a Russian who is engaged in what he calls a calculation of probabilities. He is convinced that in a given number of ascents, fatal or serious accident must occur, and never misses Mr. Wright's ascents, which he appears to have followed likewise at Auvours for several weeks.
One Frenchman, who is under the impression that he will succeed in getting Mr. Wright to take him up in his aeroplane for payment, has had a special leather rubber-lined air-tight suit made, which on being inflated by a bicycle pump, gives the wearer the appearance of an animated balloon. The would-be passenger's idea is that, if he should meet with an accident and fall out of the aeroplane, his novel suit would deaden the shock of the fall and save his limbs. [...]
- Special correspondent, from Mr. Wright's admirers. — Amateur's "pneumatic suit" for aeroplanists. in Daily Mail, 1909 feb 12.
[...] We have reached the conclusion, that one of the wires supporting the rudder broke loose and became entangled in the propeller. I don't see that anything else could have happened. [...]
- Katharine Wright, from The American Girl Whom All Europe Is Watching in The World Magazine, 1909 April 11.
[...] There is very little danger for any cool-headed man who has mastered the management of the machine. My accident was an extraordinary one, which could never happen again. Even as it was, if we had had another thirty or forty feet we should have come down all right. [...]
- Orville Wright, from Brothers Wright in London in Standard, 1909 May 3.
[...] A strong wind was blowing. Calderara made the flight only because three of his uncles came from Verona purposely to see him fly. He had promised to take up a companion, but on reaching the field he found the wind so strong he decided he would ascend alone.
He got away well. The aeroplane rose ninety feet and seemed to be under perfect control while it made two circuits of the field, the machine seemed to halt a moment, then it lunged forward and downward, and descending in a great curve, struck. [...]
The wreck of the aeroplane reminded one of a huge wounded bird; the motor was still going and its throbbings seemed like the last gasps of a dying creature. [...]
"I do not think I am very badly injured, and I hope for the day when I can make another flight."** [...]
- Reporter, from Wright's pupil and aeroplane fall — Lieut. Calderara, of Italian army, and flying machine drop 45 feet near Rome. in New York World, 1909 May 7.
[...] Instead of leaving the fair passenger the perfect freedom of movement she desired, he very carefully strapped her to the machine so that she became as powerless as a trussed bird. She not only could not fall out, but it was impossible for her to upset the equilibrium of the machine by any sudden movement. [...]
- Reporter, from Wilbur Wright and the Ladies in Toronto Light, 1909 may 15.
[...] At this time it would be almost impossible for them to become insured at a reasonable rate, as an aviator would be classed as one of the most hazardous of risks by any insurance company. [...]
- Reporter, from Secret societies shunned by boys; Father is hostile. in Dayton Herald, 1909 june 16.
[...] The danger from “ stalling ” comes in the operator attempting to check the machine's downward plunge by turning the main bearing surfaces to still larger angles of incidence, instead of pointing the machine downward, at a smaller angle of incidence, so that the speed can be recovered more quickly. [...]
- Orville Wright, from Stability of Aëroplanes, a lecture to a meeting of The Franklin Institute, 1914 May 20.
[...] Trouble in the air is very rare, it's hitting the ground that causes it. [...]
- Amelia Earhart, from 20 Hrs 40 Mins: Our flight in the friendship, 1928.
* Orville, Katharine and Wilbur were caught in two separate derailments/collisions causing dozens of death that year.
** Calderara sustained internal injuries, the right side of his face was severly cut and bruised and his right shoulder was dislocated.
Phone 911 and ask for the Golden RCMP (also at 250-344-2221) - it is manned 24 hours a day - they will coordinate all search & rescue (SAR) operations.
Ambulance service: 250-344-6226 but phone 911 in case of emergency.
Helicopter rescues are operated by Alpine Helicopters. By phone: 250-344-7444. On aircraft frequency: 122,8 MHz.
- You'd think SAR could easily handle coordinates of every formats. Well, apparently not. SAR services and Alpine helicopters use GPS coordinates of the format degrees minutes.decimal minutes such as 50 54.520 being 50° 54.520 minutes. Please set your GPS to this format for rescues, to avoid misunderstandings and save time.
- To simplify further a rescue, it is good to have your GPS mesure the distance to a precise point, during the flight. Hence, you can say: "I am at 40 km from takeoff", for example.
- The aircraft radios emergency frequency connects with SAR services
- The new digital radiobeacons for public usage are practical and affordable. They have useful functions even without emergency, such as automatically displaying its GPS position online. See Spot for example.
- CB radio emergency channel 9 (is there someone still using CB?)
- An EVAC box is located at the Lookout and another one is at the upper launch. Buy a key for $25. All regulars should have one. They contain ropes, bandages, stretcher, spine board... and a mobile phone.
- Golden hospital: 250-344-5271, 835 9th avenue South (photo).
Directions: take 9th street south westward at the crossing with 10th avenue south (the main road) at the light. Then, take the right at the next street (9th avenue south, notice the police station to your left), the hospital will be to your left.
If necessary, a helicopter can land at the Lookout and at the upper launch. If this happens, remember to shelter the wings, attach them to trees or take off.
Again, seriously consider flying with a radio. Also, nothing can help locate a downed pilot better than a GPS receiver. And carrying a long rope to climb down a tree is also a good idea. Some do fly with a complete rescue kit.
If a pilot is still stuck in a tree and needs outside help, some individuals can make tree rescues .
Our contingency fund
In case of a rescue where the costs (or some costs) are not covered neither by the government, health insurance, travel insurance, nor by any other way (very rare), we have a contingency fund. This fund insures the subscribers that a retrieval by any mean (including helicopter) will be available for them and that they will not go broke because of it. Perhaps most importantly, it means that a helicopter can proceed without any of the delays than can ensue from having to first acquire hard payment before taking off. When possible, a pilot requiring the fund should subsequently replenish it.
All, subscribers included, must contact the RCMP first if they sustain or suspect bodily injury after a crash.
The cost of the subscription is $25. Persons that paid once already are considered covered. You can subscribe at the Nicholson LZ store or by contacting Scott Watwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or Serge Lamarche at email@example.com. List of subscribers .
[...] But some of the performances of the big buzzards on the hills about camp have been really instructive as well as interesting. They have shown us that the secret of soaring lies in getting higher in the air, where the winds must have much more rise, for we find they are not able to glide or soar on some of the slopes over which we can glide with the greatest ease. [...]
- Orville Wright, from Kitty Hawk in a letter to his sister Katharine, 1902 sept 29.
[...] After a quarter of an hour it became monotonous, for these triangles in the air were performed with so much regularity that one ceased to wonder, and it needed an effort to recall that this man was doing with the utmost naturalness what centuries had dreamed of but never dared to hope for. [...]
- Reporter, from How Wilbur Wright won the Michelin prize in The Automobile, 1909 jan 14.
[...] It seems that Tissandier won every event but one at Vichy, and in that case he lost simply by overconfidence in the other fellows not being able to do anything at all. [...]
- Orville Wright, from Hotel Esplanade, Berlin, in a letter to his brother Wilbur, 1909 aug 19.
[...] All the Wright family seemed out for fun, and each member worked hard to get it. Even Bishop Wright at the age of 82 wants his share, and when Orville took his venerable father for a ride aloft, he had to mount to many hundreds of feet in compliance with his passenger's requests to go up higher. This enthusiasm also struck others, for the lighthouse keeper at Kitty Hawk said he had never seen men work so hard for fun before. [...]
- Griffith Brewer (Royal Aero Club), from his article in Flight titled With the Wrights in America, 1910 sept 3.
[...] Hooray for the last adventure! I wish I had won, but it was worthwhile anyway, you know that. [...]
- Amelia Earhart, in a letter to her dad, 1928 may 20. — Photo source