Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Strait Up

I'm on Vancouver island with a paramotor. The obvious thing to do from here is fly it back over to the mainland, and then maybe on home to Canmore. The strait isn't too wide, about 35-50K depending on where you went, but it's pretty wet and not a good place to land. The Vancouver airport also makes things more difficult due to all the airspace restrictions and heavy jet traffic.

My dad came along to help out with logistics and chase, and we've been in the Qualicum Beach area for the last three days. The reasons I haven't flown back over yet are varied, mainly that the wind has been warping out of the southeast for the last three days. I've also blown a hole in the top of my piston, we're going to rebuild today if the parts show up...

The best part of the trip so far has been the amazing help I've had from locals. Mark Johnson, a bud from back in the day, has been invaluable in helping to find launch locations and just generally being his positive self. The first real problem here was to find some kind of place to launch north of Nanaimo; the island has a lot of trees, and not many clearings...

We were driving around the Fanny Bay area looking for fields when we saw this absolute perfect farm; big fields, several possible launch directions, nice grass, just a very well-tended piece of Vancouver Island. So we drove up and knocked on the door, and had the great good fortune to meet the Keenan family. I can't thank them enough for all their help and enthusiasm. Yesterday when I blew a hole in my piston on a test flight they came and got me with their truck, then helped break down the engine on tailgate, diagnose the problem, and then feed us lunch. I think I would have thrown the motor into the ocean and gone home without the Keenan family, thanks. So much of flying for me is not just the flying but the opportunity to meet great people I might not meet otherwise.

Parts should be here today, Mark ("Yeah, I have all the bits necessary to do anything to a motor, bring it on over.") Johnson is on the situation. Thanks.

The weather is perfect, we just need wind other than southeast so I can fly northwest!

Last night we hiked up a peak around here to get rid of some stress. So much focus, intensity, desire and the general unknown of the situation had wrung me out. The sunset was fantastic, and on the hike I realized that having the piston blow in a place where I could land on a rocky beach was a lot better than having it blow in the middle of the strait. It was a lucky day.



Tom Clowes said...

Nice one Will. Good luck with fixing your motor and your flight over the water. I just started flying ppg's and it is fun to fly cross country from A to B. In the UK, now is a good time as there are many open fields to land and take off after the harvest... I would like to fly to the Isle of Wight one day in Southern England where the stretch of water is only about 4 miles but still, I would not want the engine to cut out! Although, with enough height it may be possible to glide back to land...

Veronica said...

Sorry to hear about that Will! I read your blog regularly and your flying trips, record breaking attempts and general flying adventures are of great interest to me.

Funny, in a sense you having to drive back to Canmore without flying across the Straight is almost more inspiring to me than had you been successful. Why? Because I know you'd never concede defeat - you will be back in Nanaimo to try again!

Best of luck, and thanks for still rocking the paragliding world!