NEW PROSPECT – With 20 of them now under his belt, Michael Fuller said last weekend’s annual Festival of Free Flight was the first one that was completely local.
“We had coastal flying, we had thermic inland flying, we had a combination of varying conditions and types of flying, all within a half hour of Parrsboro,” said Fuller, president of the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Atlantic Canada (HPAAC.) “It was the first year we never had to go anywhere. We stayed here for all four days.”
The first day of flying was spent inland at the Hidden Falls area in New Prospect, but the following three days allowed for coastal flying at a number of different sites, including West Bay.
“We flew every day,” said Fuller. “Everyone flew. There was air for hang gliders and air for paragliders.”
If the sunny weather was not enough to convince people today that spring had finally arrived and summer was on the way, then the sight of paragliders in the skies should have done the trick.
Patric Stettler was one of a handful of paragliding pilots moving inland to make the best of the conditions on Friday at Hidden Falls.
“It’s pretty good flying today,” said Stettler. “We have some really light thermal cycles going on, and not too much wind, so Hidden Falls was a good choice to make today.”
There was not enough wind to provide good lift at some of the favoured coastal launching sites on Friday, whereas the thermal cycles at Hidden Falls allowed them to hold their height longer and gain a couple metres here and there, he explained.
“It all depends on conditions,” said Stettler, like Fuller a former operator of the Pegasus paragliding school. “Obviously, everyone is hoping to have the coastal sites pick up, which means the wind will have to increase to about 22, to a maximum of 35 kilometres per hour. Of course, it also needs to come in straight, and we hope for that. Maybe in the next couple of days it will happen.”
The weekend also featured a number of social gatherings that were well attended by the paragliding community, including a concert by Asif Illyas at The Hall on Friday night, a lobster boil on Saturday, and the annual general meeting of HPAAC on Sunday.