Flying festival continues with cancer cause

Andrew Wagstaff
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Paragliding pilots were busy this week preparing for the annual Atlantic Canada Festival of Paragliding and Air Sports, which will take place in the Parrsboro area this weekend. More than 25 pilots are expected to take part in the event, which will once again include Fly for Discovery, a fundraiser for early cancer detection in memory of pilot Mark Dempsey.

DILIGENT RIVER - More pilots than ever are expected to descend on the area this weekend for the annual Atlantic Festival of Paragliding and Air Sports, and once again they will do so in support of a cause. Fly for Discovery, in support of early cancer diagnosis, will be a part of the event in memory of pilot Mark Dempsey. Pledges or donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society in support of participating pilots, which last year raised $6,100 for the cause. "I thought that was pretty good for a small community," said organizer Michael Fuller. "This year I'm not sure we'll raise that much because last year there was a big emotional lift, but the guys are giving it a good shot. Last count, there were 25-26 pilots coming up for the weekend." Flying will take place on each day of the three-day weekend, as well as Friday, and the best day of flying will be dedicated to Fly for Discovery. The cause can be supported in two ways - people can offer a pledge to an individual pilot, with the dollar amount determined by how many hours of flight time they log; or, they can just make a donation. After the success of last year, Fuller said the Fly for Discovery idea is going national, and the event has been affiliated with the cancer society. Once an active member of the paragliding community, Dempsey lost his battle with cancer in 2011. "We want to stream the money towards early detection and diagnosis because that's what took Mark," he said. Now in its 16th year, the festival's busy weekend of activities will include flying at various sites in the Parrsboro area, as well as competitions in areas such as longest flight, spot landing, ground handling, and the "bomb drop." Tandem flights will also be available for both hang gliding and paragliding. Fuller, in particular, was looking forward to having a large number of pilots participating. "It should be spectacular because, if there's any flying at all, there should be wings in the air all over the place," he said. The weekend will also include the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Atlantic Canada's annual general meeting.

Organizations: Canadian Cancer Society, Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Atlantic Canada

Geographic location: Parrsboro

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