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FlyBC Student Pilot Testimonials

My FlyBC experience.

People are generally intrigued when I tell them that I paraglide. “What is it like?” they often ask. I try to explain how amazing it is to be soaring with the eagles, but the only words that come close to accurately depicting paragliding to me are “life changing.” I owe the ability to participate in this amazing sport entirely to Jim and Colleen at FlyBC.

My training started with my two friends and I meeting Jim and Colleen in Savona. We drove up there with no idea of what to expect, and were kindly greeted by our instructors in front of the Savona Hotel. In no time, Jim had us introduced to our equipment and “kiting” our wings. Amazingly to us, within a couple hours of kiting in quite strong winds and getting dragged around a bit, Jim explained that with a little more instruction we were ready to take flight off of a little hill called the “toilet boil.” Unfortunately, on that first day the winds were too strong, but Jim convinced us that the next morning we would be airborne. We booked ourselves into the Savona Hotel and hung out in the local pub, proud to tell all the locals what we were up to in their town.

After a restless night on a mattress that was definitely past its prime, we met Jim at the turnoff to the “toilet bowl.” He gave us a briefing on what to do and expect on our first little flight. We were nervous but eager to see what flying was like; amazed at what we were about to do. That first feeling of being in the air is something I will never forget. I remember watching the ground fall away below me and the gentle breeze in my face. Jim guided me through my first flight and into a smooth landing. Although the hill is only about thirty meters high, the rush was unbelievable, and I basically ran back to the top for another flight with a smile plastered on my face.

Throughout the training process, I was always amazed at Jim and Colleen’s ability to teach a dangerous sport to a wide range of individuals, while still maintaining a standard of safety for everyone. I also always felt cared for, with most days having a student-instructor ratio of 3-2. Both Jim and Colleen have amazing patience when dealing with their students, and are always receptive and helpful with the broad range of questions constantly being asked to them. In my training, Jim was usually the instructor that oversaw our launch and flight until we were close to the landing zone, at which point Colleen would take over on the radio and make sure we landed safely. I was always blown away by Jim’s ability to watch a glider from such a distance and be able to tell exactly how much brake or pilot input was being applied. Even during those slightly uncomfortable situations that every paraglider student is sure to encounter at some point I never felt panicked as Jim was always on the radio talking me through what to do. I can’t say enough good things about the quality of instruction at FlyBC.

The facilities at FlyBC are unparalleled by anyone in the Fraser Valley. There is a training hill, a classroom for instruction as well as post flight debriefings, and Mt. Woodside; a site that will keep everyone happy from beginners to experts. Even when it is unflyable I always had a good time hanging out at “the ranch”.

As my flight numbers grew, Jim and Colleen added new things for me to work on in flight. I found myself often saying, “That was my favorite flight ever!” At this point, I really had no idea what I was in for. I can admit without a doubt that during my training at FlyBC I became thoroughly addicted to flying. I have participated in all sorts of sports, both on teams and individually, and believe that nothing compares to the rush as well as the feeling of freedom and adventure that FlyBC has provided me access to.

My two friends and I completed our training in May of 2008, and were soon off to fly in Costa Rica. This is when I began to understand how much FlyBC does for Paragliding in the Fraser Valley. Everyday Jim updates the “Site of the Day,” and includes flight reports from previous days. He posted the Costa Rican flight reports that we sent him, and I thought this was so cool, being a brand new pilot and having everyone back home knowing what we were up to. This really adds to the comraderie that develops in the Fraser Valley flying community, as everyone can stay current on flights completed by other pilots. This is another aspect of FlyBC that I am amazed by. It seems that the training here never really stops. Although I became signed off, I was constantly surrounded by amazing pilots around FlyBC that are always willing to answer questions or provide advice on anything to do with paragliding. My advice for anyone thinking of giving paragliding a try would be to immediately set your homepage to www.flybc/siteoftheday.htm and give FlyBC a call; you will not regret it!

Matt Jesson (class of 2008 and WCSC Eagle of the Month July 2008 Winner and just completed his first 35 km Cross Country flight in May 2009)

For me, flying is the stuff that dreams are made of.

I have undertaken whole sporting endeavers in an effort to achieve a few seconds of "airtime", and I have dedicated tens of thousands of dollars towards learning to fly by various mechanical means.

Though filled with awe and envy at the beauty and serenity of paragliding, the reality of the sport seemed like a world away.

Taking notice of my interest one day, Jim offered me his gear and let me try kiting a wing right then and there. I was welcomed to the FlyBC ranch for a tandem flight.

Feeling safe under Jim's expertise, we soared with the eagles that first flight, as the clouds began to form at our feet!

Within another day I experienced my own anticipated first solo flight! The feeling of being lifted off the earth, and using my own feet as the landing gear is the absolute best!

From launch to landing Jim and Colleen make an excellent team. Their hospitality has created a community of friendships, and the education continues at various sites.

Part of the fun is finding sites of my own that have never been flown. Paragliding has given real wings to my imagination.

It is incredible that I store my "aircraft" in my closet, and can travel the world to fly with it, hassle free.

Thank you FlyBC, for helping make dreams come true

Wylie Millar (class of 2005)

"Look up, look waaaaaay up"

It all started in the fall of 2007. Brad Henry was in the midst of taking my swing dance lessons on Sunday nights. I suppose he needed one more edge to charm the ladies. However, this is not a biography of Mr. Henry's love life; rather it is an account of how I began my love of paragliding. As I said, Brad introduced me to paragliding in 2007. It was in exchange for the dance lessons. He took my fiancé (Crystal) and I to the top of Mt Woodside for a tandem. Instantly I loved it, but it was not until the Summer of 2008 did I discover the true calling.

I was transferred to Kent Institution from Mission Institution. No I am not an inmate. I am a Programs facilitator for Corrections Service Canada. Every Day I saw these tiny Paragliders fly over head on my way home. One day I decided to see where they land and thus I dropped in. I parked in front of the old Red barn and poked my head into the dark room. The pool table had bags and gear piled upon it. Beyond the pool table, I heard voices and saw a handful of men discussing wind patterns and landing formations. No one actually introduced themselves to me or acknowledged me at that time. So I sat down and listened. They where on an instructors course and began discussing learning styles and different pet peeves of new pilots. Hmmmmmm, interesting. Go on.... One after another they recalled students who thought they knew it all, students who talked too much, students who did not listen, and students who were impatient.

One the group had finished the lesson; I introduced myself to the guy at the Blackboard, Jim Reich. Shortly afterwards, a tiny excited lady came from behind us and asked if I was interested in learning to fly? Colleen and Jim showed me around their farm and introduced me to the world of paragliding.

I came back that weekend, and ground schooling began. I appeared to grasp kiting well enough to attempt my first solo flight the very first day.

Conditions where good, so off we went to the top of Woodside. HOLY CRAP! You want me to run off this mountain by my self? I didn't think there was enough hill side for me to make it. But after calm and supportive instruction I made the first attempt. Did I say calm and supportive? Once I nervously attempted to "KITE" the wing on a forward launch, things went wrong.... and I stopped.

I made a few more attempts at launching and off I was. In the air, on my own. Nothing in my way! What a feeling of freedom! Wait a minute! I have to land right? Now what? What was that? My wing surged violently! (It was really just a small thermal) Where's the farm? Where is the farm! OK the Maple tree.... Just make it to the maple tree! Ok now what? Man I am still very high up! I hear Colleen directing me. OK looking at the wind direction on the wind sock... it looks like I need to stay at the west of the field. Which way do I turn? OK .. down I come in for an aircraft approach. Touch down just outside of the circle! I made it! Thanks Colleen!

Well that was the first flight. A bit of fear, yelling, freedom, and satisfaction all rolled into a small bag and ready for more. Now I am at 75 flights and coming upon my first full year paragliding. I have met some wonderful people and made some great friends. Paragliding is a community. We all look out for each other, help each other, and support each other. Paragliding is an opportunity to think to your self, to push your boundaries, and to become one with nature.

Paragliding has opened my eyes to more opportunities and I am even getting married at the Ranch June 20 2009.

Thanks Jim and Colleen for opening your land and your hearts to the people who appreciate this wonderful sport.

Jason Warner (Class of 2008 and currently has a personal best flight record of 3 hours at Bridal)

Tandem with Jim was my first paragliding experience.

His easy-going nature understated his sheer joy of teaching and put me immediately at ease.

There's something reassuring of flying with people who made this an everyday part of life - so much that it's literally in their own back yard.

He and Colleen give you increasing freedom in flight as they pick the safest gear for each of your flights as you progress.

The biggest thing for me has been their flexibility - it took me a couple seasons to complete my novice course. Whether local flying or road trips, they always kept the door open. They welcomed me to fly with them whenever I could, and as a friend whenever we saw each other, not just a customer.

I'll be flying with them for many years to come.

Pavan Kumar - Halifax NS, and now Saskatoon, SK

Graduation Class 2004

Yeah, a flashback in time . . . myself, TJ, big Bob, Jeffrey, Lee and many others. The dream of flying has finally come to reality for me when I stepped of Woodside for the first time with Colleen flying the glider. Many flights and sites later I look back with a warm fussy feeling. I have been with FlyBC through training and flying, traveling overseas, fly-ins, maneuvers clinics, para-waiting and launch site maintenance and of course X-Mas parties. If there is any flying activity going on in the province be assured FlyBC will be in it. The contribution FlyBC made to the sport is immense and I am sure many people will corroborate to my statements.

I have seen many paragliding schools over the years but none is in the league of FlyBC with its own landing site overlooking BC's most famous launch site and in close proximity to many other sites. You couldn’t find a better place to paraglide in BC.

Folks I am telling you, FlyBC is not just a paragliding school! It is a paragliding lifestyle! Not only will you get world class training and flying equipment, but also will get a chance (many chances actually) to travel places, fly many sites and meet lots of great people (just like me!). The whole experience will change your life forever. Things will never be the same. I went through this so I know what I am talking about.

And remember... you can graduate any time you like, but you can never leave FlyBC!

Fly high!

Kirill Tchimerine, Paraglider, Paramotor and now HG Trike Pilot terrorizing the skies near King George Airpark and developing a BMW Trike Motor.

Even as a child, I used to dream I could fly.

When I heard about paragliding, I finally set out to make that dream a reality.

Luckily, I discovered FlyBC. Not knowing what to expect, I was truly amazed when I made my first flight from Mount Woodside at the end of Day 1! Not only that, but I was confident to do so, thanks to the instruction on the ground throughout the day.

FlyBC have managed to create the perfect blend of safety, experience and passion for flying. Thanks for getting me into the air and keeping me there!

Rob Harding (Class of 2008)

The Dutch can fly!

Some Canadian friends invited me over for the summer of 2006. I was dreaming about paragliding for quite some time and I started my lessons with Flybc. Soon after that, and some groundpractice later, I was in the air flying off Mount Woodside by myself. Since that moment my life has never been the same again.

Step by step, I was taught the basics of paragliding, with Jim and Colleen being really patient and with their professional, yet informal, approach I learned a lot in a short period of time. During that summer they showed me more than just the basics; thermalling, soaring and other aspects were soon to be introduced to me, everytime with a lot of patience and in a way that felt really comfortable to me. I joined in on the SIV course and Jim taught me how to deal with the more extreme situations you find yourself in when you fly in stronger conditions, all of course suitable to my level. I got signed off that summer but there was still so much more to learn!

During 2008 I spent the summer in Canada again and flew a lot with FlyBC, I started my tandem course and learned more then I could have ever imagined.

Mount Woodside is magical. When every other site in the valley doesn't seem flyable, you have a good chance Woodside is there waiting for you. And when you land you might walk into one of those awesome parties in the barn. And people who experienced it know where I'm talking about!

FlyBC and Mount Woodside keep pulling me back. This year, for the third summer, I'm coming over to fly with Jim and Colleen. They feel like family rather then a school to me. Always there, to support me or to teach me new things. Since I've been flying I noticed that paragliding is more than just flying your wing, it's a passion you share with others and it brings people closer. I got to see the most amazing flying places in Europe and met a lot of inspiring people since and all of this because Jim and Colleen showed me the beauty of flying.

Wouter (Class of 2006 and our star pupil)

There are so many things that I like about flying.

What I think I enjoy the most is the rush, the challenge and the freedom.

And that’s exactly what I got yesterday flying with Al and Matt, in this incredible site called "Shotgun" discovered by Al (I would like to call it the Hammer Launch).

Although the site needs some work, I would dare to say that it has huge potential to be even better than Bridal. The view is just breathtaking and the potential for XC is super.

Thanks for getting me into this crazy sport!

Miguel Bertello (Class of 2007 and just completed his first 35 km Cross Country flight off Shotgun Launch)

Flying is my Life!

When I started paragliding in 1999, my first tandem with Jim at FlyBC had us soaring above Woodside for over an hour. Life hasn't been the same since that day.

Fortunately, my job in Hope allows me to fly during the day and I have weekends, and most school holidays off including ALL SUMMER!

My favourite holiday is heading to the BC Interior and fly, fly, flying all summer long meeting old friends in Golden for the "Willi". My second favourite holiday is 3 weeks off in Mexico each year. Yeah, I have a rough life!

Thank you FlyBC for changing my life.

Norm Lawlor (Class of 1999 and has a 140 km Cross Country flight off Golden's Mount Seven on his resume and he is the winner of the 2007 "Willi" Cross Country Challenge)

Steve's Experiences at FlyBC

For as long as I can remember I've had a fascination for flying. Over my many years, I've been fortunate enough to experience quite a few of the different forms of flying that aviation has to offer - Military Parachuting in the early 60's, Hang Gliding in the early 70's and then a Private Pilot's Licence in the 80's. Whilst out hiking in the local mountains I watched and talked with Paraglider Pilots launching from Elk Mountain and Cheam Peak. a fantastic sight which left me feeling that this was something that I just had to add to my aviation experiences, little did I know just how big a personal challenge this was to be for me.

It was Ivan Tomacek, an experienced and well known local pilot, who convinced me that I wasn't yet too old to try the sport and suggested that I contact Jim & Colleen at FlyBC who would eagerly enjoy teaching a 70 year old to fly. Just one quick telephone call and I was at the Ranch and on the training hill being introduced to the dark art of 'Kiting' and then up the mountain for my first Paraglider flight - flying tandem, Jim in command.

All through that first day I felt totally at ease with Jim's reassuring style of instructing guiding me all the way. however, when Jim quite casually suggested that I was ready to try my first solo I admit to feeling really apprehensive - I hadn't expected things to move quite as quickly as this - was I ready GULP!!

Although Jim had me 'kiting' very quickly, when I was faced with the prospect of running off that mountain side I suddenly realised that the passing years had eroded my self confidence and although I had thrown myself off mountain sides flying garage built hang gliders, all that was a long, long time ago and the years had taken a toll on my earlier confident approach to such challenges.

Anyway, after several failed attempts at launching and with the help of Jim's patient style of instructing , I managed to get airborne and experience for the first time the amazing feeling of true flying - soaring with eagles on my first flight!

Over the next three or four months Jim worked with me closely to help me progress and overcome my launch nerves. Air time steadily built but launching was continuing to be a problem for me, the flights themselves were no problem with Jim's reassuring voice on the radio guiding me all the while right to touchdown - it truly amazes me how Jim can detect every input from the pilot as he guides you through a flight - "your rocking and rolling again Steve!". I know I tested Jim's patience to the extreme but he was always there to reassure me and guide me in the right direction.

Last week I finally got the nod that I was to be 'signed off' and after completing a written exam I was able to start the paperwork to get my official HPAC certification.

Thanks to Jim's patience, I am now one of the many paragliding addicts in BC having already equipped myself with my own glider and harness. We are so very lucky to have access to such a great flying site as Mt Woodside and the facilities that FlyBC and 'The Ranch' have to offer pilots and with the world class flying site at Bridal Falls just across the valley what more could you wish for.

Thanks Jim and Coleen, good health provided, I hope to be a Woodside regular for some time to come - SteveD

FlyBC Airsports
  Box 79, Harrison Mills, BC  
Canada V0M 1L0
Mobile: Call 604-618-5467

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FlyBC Airsports USA
  250 H Street, Blaine, WA USA 98230  

Mobile: Call 604-618-5467

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