Flights in the Fraser Valley are confined by the valley narrowing at Hope, causing high winds in the afternoon. Out and Return flights at Bridal are the safest XC flights, because you are typically landing near the wider part of the valley.
Cross Country Triangle Attempt - May 8, 2008 - Mount Woodside, Harrison Mills, BC
Cross Country Potential in the Fraser Valley
Just completed a great XC flight on the Bagheera M on March 6/2000.
I launched at 2:00 PM from Woodside in quite gusty conditions (25-30 km thermal gusts) and the Bagheera came up straight as usual and waited for me to push off.
I climbed out to the south to join 6 other pilots already in the air. There is a house
thermal towards the south knoll that I often take to cloudbase, and it was there again.
Due to the high winds at altitude it was only possible to stay in the core by really
turning tightly. This is one area where the Bagheera shines, turning tight. I just slowed
down to min sink speed and leaned over hard and the Bagheera started to go up at 4 m/s.
I was drifting quite far back to the point that I might be committed to doing a XC flight so I hit the speedbar and flew to the north where the other pilots were congregating near the microwave towers. I hit big sink all the way over and had to climb up through the gaggle. Again the tight, flat turns got me back up to cloudbase. The air was rough on the outsides of the thermals, and a number of the thermals seemed to have hard-to-penetrate walls. I just sped up to enter the thermals and once in just slowed down and weightshifted to turn.
Ian Porter was on his Profeel and we climbed up over launch and decided to try and cross south over the Fraser River to the valley, where the cloudstreet looked inticing. Unfortunately the upper level winds were about 220 degrees at 25 km, so we weren't making great progress (actually felt like we were sinking out before the river). I hit the same house thermal on the way over and decided to get some height before venturing any further south, hoping for less wind higher up. Again I drifted back as I cored the Bagheera up, this time not bailing out as I went back because the original intent was to fly south and I was just drifting east, thinking I could catch Ian on the flats. The thermal topped out at about 1250 meters (700 meters above launch) and I tried to head south with the same effect, no significant penetration so I headed over the back to Agassiz Mountain.
Ian Johnston had gone over the back and said it was quite windy in Harrison Hot Springs, so no one else ventured this way after he had.
There is a CYR Restricted area above Kent prison to the east of Woodside (stay above 1100 feet/350 meters) over Agassiz Mtn. until to Harrison Road (8 km). I overflew the prison on the ridge in sinky air (down 2.5 m/s) until I hit the rocky ridge behind the prison still above 1100 feet. I climbed out slowly at first getting closer to the rocks, but not too close, and an eagle joined me. We were competing for the top of the stack when I saw one of my last year's students, Tim (Farmer Tim) Boersma fly over me from Woodside. He mentioned before we flew that he wanted to fly to Agassiz Village and land in town when he launched. All three of us climbed up over the top of Agassiz Mountain and again the thermals were quite tilted requiring some tight turns into the wind to stay in the core.
The eagle flew off bored with our limited flying skills and I motioned Tim to head over the Bear Mountain to the east, because we topped out over Agassiz Mountain. Now or never.
I leaned back and hit 75% speedbar to cruise over the valley gap. I kept crabbing to the south to overcome the valley winds to Harrison Lake but there was no significant south wind at this altitude. I started getting lower over the swamp littered with high tension lines, and behind some little hills expecting some turbulence but only released the speed bar a few times when it got bumpy.
I kept remembering a Rob Whittal article that mentioned to not use brakes/speedbar at the same time because it changes the lift vectors dramatically on some canopies. Not wanting to do in-flight testing on this trip I just released the brakes and let my hands warm up for the first time in 40 minutes.
Just as I was about 500 meters from Bear Mtn. and at about 500 meters from the deck, I started to hit some lift. Not wanting to start turning in weak lift, I waited a few more seconds to see how the lift was following the ridgeline flying straight at the hill. Sure enough, 2+ m/s started and I started to turn tight again, modulating the brakes to fly fast upwind and slow on the downwind side staying in the core right up to the top of Bear Mtn, to about 1100 meters before heading east.
A beautiful view to the north over Harrison Lake, sadly the Search and Rescue Buffalo was still searching for the 77 yr old pilot missing since the Thursday before in his homebuilt. A reminder to fly safe and not take any chances on this flight. This fallen pilot was found 2 years later near Mission, in a wooded area not far from town. His plane was destroyed and no one saw him go in - Editor
I started heading east toward Mount Hicks, again on speedbar getting a 0.5 m/s sink rate and overflew the Sea Bird Island Cafe at over 1000 meters. I didn't recognize it at first because there were so many cars around it (usually it is quiet there) and I was quite far away with no map. I radioed back to Woodside to organize a retrieve and Tim had landed near Harrison Road and someone was heading to get him, I got Larry on the radio but he said I was breaking up but had heard I was on the ground east of Harrison. Oh well.
As I got to Mount Hicks I was about 650 meters and hit another great thermal on the ridge there, again flying at the face resisting turning until it was stronger, suspecting that the thermal wouldn't dump me out the back until I hit the top of Hicks at 850 meters. Lift was between 2-3 m/s up and again very tilted into the hills from the west. I checked the winds on flags and the Fraser River and it looked smooth, no whitecaps so why not continue??
If I turned into the wind to the west I was parked so there was no out-and-return this
day. At some points in the climb above Hicks I just quit turning and faced into the west
and was climbing straight up like an elevator without moving over the ground east or west.
The lakes in Sasquatch Provincial Park looked very beautiful to the north and the sun was
on the snowy peaks all around me. Quite hard to concentrate on flying with all the
As I passed over Ruby Creek I was again at 1000 meters and didn't recognize it. The terrain east of Ruby gets quite unlandable with the exception of the Fraser River banks, as the river is low and you can walk over the train tracks to Hwy. 7. I was at 1000 meters so I was sure I could glide to a lumber yard or a ball field quite far in the distance. I also had the Hope Airport in sight now across the Fraser River and there was a big CU between me and the airport. I noticed I was keeping up with some of the truck traffic on Hwy 1 at this point in my flight (speed limit is 100 km on Hwy 1).
This was where I made a lapse in judgement. I went on final glide with 75% speedbar towards the CU and was expecting some beeps but got nothing as I got closer. As I surveyed the terrain, I noticed the valley gap is very narrow here and Hwy 1 is just across the River less than 1 km away from Hwy 7. There is a nice rocky ridge as the river bends on the south side that was fully in the sun and that was where the thermal was generating, I would have had to cross the Fraser and fly at the ridge there and I waited to long to figure it out and I was already downwind and in the backside of the thermal now.
I was in -2.0 to -3.0 m/s sink on final glide, and knew it risky to cross the Fraser into the Hope Airport now, plus I would have been leeside of the ridge so I headed for the ballfield with tons of height (I thought)! As I crossed the Highway on my downwind leg, I was able to make the turn to base and final (aircraft approach) and land with about 30 feet of altitude on final. It was rowdy as I got behind the trees bordering the park in rotor with 25 km winds on the ground but I just pulled the brakes to stabilize the Bagheera and keep it turned into the wind and dropped vertically into the ballfield.
Thanks Anatoly for making this great ship! The sign said Chawathil Park on the community center there.
The local kids were piling out of the school bus as I landed and they ran all around the glider putting on the helmet, picking up the harness and helped me fold up. Great fun for them!
Flight Log: Launched at 2:00 PM, Wasted a bunch of time fooling around Woodside
Mountain sinking out twice, Climbed to 1000 meters over the south knoll and headed east,
Four thermals (Agassiz Mtn, Bear Mountain, Hicks Mountain and unnamed ridge east of Ruby
Creek), Lowest altitude 500 meters AGL, Distance is 29-30 kms depending on map used (GPS
died after launch), One critical error near Hope Airport kept the flight from continuing
but didn't want to be on the wrong side of the River not knowing the windspeed.
Landed at 3:10 PM. Fun Index - 120/100
Satellite Tim picked me up after finding Ian (near Agassiz) and Farmer Tim (near Harrison Rd.) and we headed back for another flight.
Larry, Monica, Klaus, Jacques and Alan were still in the air for a total of 4.25-4.5 hours airtime.
A great day for all after wasting two days in a row with tailwind Saturday and Sunday.
Cross Country Potential in the Pemberton Area
This cross country flight was conducted by Jim Reich in September 1997 at a sanctioned HPAC meet.
Equipment: APCO Xtra 28 Performance Paraglider, with SupAir Harness and reserve.
The map shown is a Garmin 45 GPS plot overlaid on a contour map of the Pemberton area.
The Launch was from Hurley Pass launch area at 4000 feet.
The flight lasted 2 hours and maximum altitude was 10,000 feet.
The total distance to the Pemberton High School Landing Zone (LZ) was 32 km.
I was getting ready to bail out part way through the flight, just over the bridge that takes you up to Hurley Pass. I had seen other PG pilots "scratching low" trying to stay up and then heading to the alternate LZ, so I started to head out also. I saw another pilot just come overhead (Danny Curylo), who started to turn and was going up. I committed to fly back to the mountain and snag the same thermal Danny was in, and by luck, the thermal was still building. It took about 6 turns to get up to 6500 feet (estimated climb rate of 6 meters/second or 1000 feet per minute). I then headed east along the ridge turning when the thermals built above 3 m/s and fast gliding throught the weaker stuff.
This was a bumpy flight but I was grateful to APCO for building a great performing glider that gave me a safe ride all the way to the LZ.
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