Peter Bowle-Evans' Memorial

Peter wrote quite many articles about flying and mount 7. Here are articles written or published in 1997. Contributed by Brenda Bowle-Evans

Let Us Not Know Grief
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Air, 09 February 1997 & 07 August 1997)

In the course of life in a mountain community, there are those who pay the ultimate price for their adventurous spirits and love of the mountains. Over a twelve month period from February 1996 to February 1997, this was a painful reality in the Columbia region. Fifteen people died in accidents directly involving mountain activities. In a small community, one knows almost everybody. After a longer and longer time, you know most of them quite well, and when you narrow this down to particular circles of activities and social groupings, you find that the persons who have just gone are anywhere from your best friend to your neighbour's children. This has happened here, it has happened to myself, it has happened to my family's closest friends, and it has happened to our friends' closest friends. Happily, no one has been lost in my personal family; in fact we are doing so well that we are almost to the point of wondering when our turn is coming: but we have lost friends, and we are not alone. We and our friends have come to know something of the meaning of grief.

It is a fortunate fact here that not one of these losses had anything to do with soaring, HG & PG, or Mt 7; but it could so easily have done. Not one of those fifteen persons went out one day with a devil take the hindmost state of mind. Everyone fully expected to have supper and snuggle up with their friends or families at the end of the day: but they did not. Instead, their loved ones and friends went through anguish and grief: and do not imagine that they are no longer going through it. They are. We know ourselves.

Amongst the assortment of things I do around Mt 7, I have taken to making a little record every time I am aware of an accident at or from 7. Sometimes I am a personal witness, sometimes it is second or third hand. Some are on video, while some are sketchy at best. There may well be others - there is no compulsion on reporting. Like everything with our sports, it is self run. For a while I did not do anything with my notes. They were just another file in my computer. Then people ask a few questions, and of course you realise you may have the answers on file. Soon Fred Wilson gets interested, and he wants to see what you have. Now it gets a bit more involved, because sometimes there are all sorts of details, and sometimes it is quite vague. How much should one pass on? What should be confidential? What might not be quite correct? Then I may have added some personal notations or comments: should I edit or remove these? It goes on, and the fact is that it has gone out all ways, from little to everything. An issue of "Air" had quite a bit in it. I am not sure how I feel about this. That was not exactly what I had in mind, but then Fred knows the protocol much better than I. I do not recall that there were any names, but if anyone is upset I apologise.

To get a little more to the point, the fact is that there are 14 entries in my file for 1996. They range from little bonks that were debateable as to whether they rated inclusion at all, to some quite serious crashes. There were some significant injuries. It is worth realising that when someone "just broke a leg or something, they're OK", and you promptly forget about it, for that someone even something relatively "simple" goes on for quite some time. In more serious cases, it may never go away at all.

It is further a fact that of the 14 entries, 12 were PG, and 2 were HG. This is simply a fact. A few features have come up that could be considered as to having some bearing on this. Are there more PG flights than HG? Is the average experience of the HG more than the PG? Are there relatively more less experienced PG pilots flying at 7 than HG? No one knows, and I do not believe there are sufficient records, if any at all, to figure any of this out. Of the injuries, all were PG. It is perhaps worth mentioning that in 1995 injuries were more evenly distributed. Then too, the events were also distributed amongst a wide range of pilots. The famous tree landings accounted for many of the entries, but then since we are flying over the bush most of the time, this is perhaps hardly surprising, and the trees may well provide a net that prevents much personal injury, although the canopies do suffer. That is enough of these sort of details. I myself do not even fly a PG, so in this respect I am merely a spectator. It may be that some guidelines could be established specific to the site that may help to reduce these events. This is open to suggestions. Of course, there are already schools, training courses and manuals that have stood the test of time, and anything further may just be repetition. I know that if I get the feeling I have already read or heard something before, especially several times, I tend to quit listening or reading.

A few more details. Out of the 14 events, there were 4 heli-evacs, 2 of which were at the expense of the pilots (I have heard $800 each) and 3 or 4 emergency deployments. There you go - I know there were 3, I am not sure about #4. Of these four, 2 can definitely be said to have prevented serious injury or death: both of these two walked away unscathed. Of the other 1 or 2, it is a little indeterminate, as the one pilot described things as his reserve "sort of coming out on its own", "I was going to deploy and then my main started to reinflate so I thought maybe not.....and then it was out anyway" type of thing. There is an account in a recent USHG magazine of an event so similar it could be the same thing. Basically going up and down like a cork in a rough sea in bullet thermals, low over cliffs in the middle of a hot afternoon. One pilot also spent a night out.

So what?

So say 50% of the accidents that resulted in no pilot injuries could perhaps have been otherwise. There were 11 of those. Let's say 10, which gives us 5 possibilities. So there could have been 3+5=8 injuries. Of the first 3 injuries, 2 can be called serious. That is 2/3 of the total. So lets say 3 of the second 5 may also have been serious. That gives 2+3=5 serious and 1+2=3 "minor". Now let's suppose that one of those folks that ended up suspended in trees over cliffs had happened to come down on bare cliffs, and in such a way that nothing caught up on anything, and after an assortment of tumbles over drops and bangs on sharp projections.........they died. So now, our 14 accidents with 2 serious injuries and 1 minor injury have become 14 accidents with 1 death, 4 serious injuries, 3 minor injuries, and still 6 others that still could have been anywhere from a little to a great deal worse. I notice that the minors are significantly less than the serious. It seems that if it happens, it tends to happen big time. From a selfish point of view, I do not relish the prospect of writing any form of report or discussion on that. From everyone's point of view, we do not want this to happen. It could be your best friend, or your life's partner. You do not want to lose your friends any more than they you.

What is described before the last paragraph happened at Mt 7 last year. What is discussed in the last paragraph is conjecture. However it is that you think of it, or however it is that you convey this to friends and visitors, can it be part of it that to be flying tomorrow, next week, next month and next year is part of it too?

Let us not know grief.

P.S. I originally put this together last February. I was slow in getting around to it. Then the "Air" editor changed........and so on. At the time of e-mailing this to the new editor, 07 August 1997, there are 10 entries in my accident file for 1997. They cover the whole gamut of HG, PG, novice, expert, tandem, launch, trees, water and landings. One or two are lucky - perhaps all 10.

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 09 February 1997 & 07 August 1997

Hot and Intense
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Air?, Golden Star?, 09 February 1997 & 07 August 1997)

Blastingly hot and rocketing skywards whether you liked it or not, or totally forget it is the way we remember 1996. I know, it is a little late getting around to talking about last year. After all, it is almost time to talk about this year now! It is just that the window in my life when I seemed to be able to put HG first and almost ignore everything else may have closed up a bit. I got busy with other things last September, and still have not really come out of it. So I will do my best to remember what matters from 1996 at Mt 7.

After great expectations, the spring was a non-event in that when anything moved, it went crazy. Eric Oddy plowed the road as far as lower launch, but no one really made use of it. Of the few who did, most went up all right, but kind of wished they had not done it. To be fair, there was one perfect day. I was in the CP Rail car shop crawling over a horrible, black, greasy crane. I could hear the tow planes going all day long. I can assure you, any crane you have to deal with is horrible on a day like that. Some of the local PG had some superlatives that day. Most of the season was jammed into about two months, from about late June to late August. There were several days with lift in the middle of the valley, and one day it went across to the West side. After living on the East side for 21 years looking across at the West side, it was a treat to hang out over the far side looking over the peaks to the West and looking back across to the East side: especially as an alternative to doing due diligence in the office. In the first part of this two months, the weekends were the best and the weekdays were not worth it. As locals we felt a bit cheated. Later on, it switched the other way round, particularly over the PG Nats weekend. From a local bum's point of view, since we had flown our buns off during the preceding days, and did so again immediately afterwards, we needed a rest. This did nothing to help those who had come specially for the event. Quite a few managed to stay on, and were rewarded with a splendid week's flying. When 7 is on, it is the tops: but it can turn off at any time, and then it is the pits. Ironically, the week that the HG Nats or Golden Classic were normally held, it was a splendid week! Those who were here will agree. So there it is my dacron winged friends. You takes your pick and takes your chances. Either that, or come and live here if you can take the rest of Golden's quaintness, or just stay for a summer like George Lev did last year. While he was here, he did a number of useful things, such as downloading weather maps and reports from the net and faxing them to the Discovery Center every day. This is a good place to say "thank you" to him for his help. George flies a PG. When I first met him in the spring, he had a bare handful of hours. In no time, this had doubled. By late August, folks would be looking up from the LZ saying, "Who is that PG still up there?", and it would be George. He was patient. There were many days when he did not fly. He did not want to get into more than he was ready for. As time went by, his patience was rewarded.

This brings me to the subject which, perhaps aside from personal flights, stands out in my mind the most from 1996 - accidents. There were too many, we feel, to the point that I have written a separate article on this. For here, I will just say that some got away unscathed, some were a little sore, and some were not so fortunate. So far, no-one has died here.

Arising from the above, we now own a basket stretcher and spine board with all sorts of straps and first aid kit. Many thanks are due to Fred Wilson for his advice on equipment selection, supply and pricing for these items. We are acquiring ropes to go with this evacuation equipment. Steve Ritchie from Calgary, who is a welder, has acquired materials and fabricated a checquer plate steel storage container, that is now installed in the ground adjacent to the North ramp. For all practical purposes it is immovable and indestructible. There is to be a skookum padlock, arranged in such a way that it cannot be accessed with bolt cutters. The plan is to distribute keys to every pilot who regularly uses the site. This will give us the ability to extricate an injured pilot from a crash situation below launch without waiting for search and rescue. Two hours is greased lightening to assemble the PEP crew from the far corners of the community, but it is forever if you are waiting. Getting the paramedics up to the site by helicopter has proved to be very quick - about 15 minutes. I think this is quick. There are qualified people in town who have offered to officially train a group of us in the use of this evacuation equipment, so there would be a core of people who would know how to go about it. Please note, we are not proposing that we will perform the first aid; just the evacuation. There will be more about this in a future "Air" as this project reaches completion.

The road is now a dead horse. The price tag reached $1.2 million. I am not going to go into the tangly details, more than to say that this is now about ten times more road than was ever meant in the first place. Since all the government agencies decided they had no money any more, the project has withered and died - at least as far as this round of funding initiatives was concerned. The job market for government promise makers is not thriving currently. So, we shall be continuing to maintain what we have, with the need for more dollar hustling for this again.

On a similar track, as I mentioned earlier, Eric Oddy plowed the road to lower launch last spring. Since there had been no logging during the winter, he had to start from about 1 km from the gravel pit. The whole business took several days, and by the time he was finished, with hauling, fuel and so on it basically cost him $800 from his own pocket. So if people want this to happen again, we need money ahead of time. The point is proved with the Forest Service that it works. In fact, with the improved drainage during the spring run-off, the road was the better for it. The plowing is done in March, so any funding for this has to be in place by about the first week of March of any year.

The Nicholson LZ is quite stable, although we still go from year to year. It was for sale for half a million dollars, but there were no takers.

I think the story was a little dry this time, but let's all try to be here this time next year too, ready to fly again.

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 09 February 1997 & 07 August 1997

[Webmaster note: the following is mostly a repeat of the previous article, probably intended for a different publication.]

Two in One from 7
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Air, Golden Star?, 23 September 1997)

LAST FALL I got busy, and it was February of this year before I got to writing about flying. The window in my life when I seemed to be able to put HG first and almost ignore everything else may have closed up a bit. Then, what with editor changes and one thing and another, last year's "Hot & Intense" never made it into print. So, for what it is worth, now here goes for a two in one for 1996 and 1997.

LAST SPRING Eric Oddy plowed the road as far as lower launch - and now that I remember it, George Pezderek ran the cat much of the time too - but no one really made use of it. The weather was certainly part of the reason, since it did not co-operate, so use of an early open road in a good spring is still an unknown quantity. Since there had been no logging during the winter, he had to start from about 1 km from the gravel pit. The whole business took several days, and by the time he was finished, with hauling, fuel and so on it basically cost him $800. So if people want this to happen again, we need money ahead of time. The point is proved with the Forest Service that it works. In fact, with the improved drainage during the spring run-off, the road was the better for it. The plowing is done in March, so any funding for this has to be in place by about the first week of March of any year.

THE 1996 SEASON was mostly jammed into about two months, from late June to late August. There were several days with lift in the middle of the valley, and one day it went across to the West side. After living on the East side for 21 years looking across at the West side, it was a treat to hang out over the far side looking over the peaks to the West and looking back across to the East side: especially as an alternative to doing due diligence in the office.

THE 1996 PG NATS WEEKEND made the wrong sort of history. From a local bum's point of view, since we had flown our buns off during the preceding days, and did so again immediately afterwards, we needed a rest. This did nothing to help those who had come specially for the event. Quite a few managed to stay on, and were rewarded with a splendid week's flying. When 7 is on, it is the tops: but it can turn off at any time, and then it is the pits. Ironically, the week that the HG Nats or Golden Classic were normally held, it was a splendid week! Those who were here will agree. So there it is my dacron winged friends. You takes your pick and takes your chances.

Either that, or come and live here if you can take the rest of Golden's quaintness, or just stay for a summer like George Lev did last year. While he was here, he did a number of useful things, such as downloading weather maps and reports from the net and faxing them to the Discovery Center every day. This is a good place to say "thank you" to him for his help. George flies a PG. When I first met him that spring, he had a bare handful of hours. In no time, this had doubled. By late August, folks would be looking up from the LZ saying, "Who is that PG still up there?", and it would be George. He was patient. There were many days when he did not fly. He did not want to get into more than he was ready for. As time went by, his patience was rewarded.

1996 - ACCIDENTS are the subject which, perhaps aside from personal flights, stands out in my mind the most from last year. There were too many, we feel, to the point that I wrote a separate article on this - "Let Us Not Know Grief" - which by now many of you have read. Some got away unscathed, some were a little sore, and some were not so fortunate. So far, no-one has died here, and that includes this year.

THE "EVAC BOX", as I call it, arose from the above, and is now in place. Once again, there will be a separate article on this, but quite simply it is a very secure, steel storage box, installed in the ground beside the North ramp, containing emergency first aid and evacuation equipment. I am selling keys for $10 a key. This will help defray some of the costs of this project, and provide you with access to it. The idea is to get lots of keys out there, to maximise the chances of there being someone there who has a key when this equipment is needed. I carry some in my brief case, which I usually have with me at any time.

THE ROAD became a dead horse. The price tag reached $1.2 million. I am not going to go into the tangly details, more than to say that this was about ten times more road than was ever meant in the first place. Since all the government agencies decided they had no money any more, the project withered and died - at least as far as this round of funding initiatives was concerned. The job market for government promise makers is not thriving currently. So, we shall be continuing to maintain what we have, and there will be more dollar hustling for this in 1998.

1997 is, in fact, seeing more road building happening on the mountain. It is a six kilometer traverse Eastwards into the Kicking Horse Canyon, starting at the point where the Main rounds the corner into the canyon. Since this new road accesses more wood on the mountain, it has to take the interest away from the upper North face for several years, which means we are still faced with dealing with "the road".

THE SOUTH LAUNCH has opportunely benefitted from the present road building. In fact, there has been a silver lining to the demise of the proposed new road. Firstly, the concerns of excess people and all that might entail go away. Secondly, there was a 400 excavator on the mountain. To those who do not deal with these things, this means a great big monster of a machine that can "dig" rock that is not too hard. A few more negotiations, meetings and another proposal later netted me the written permission required to grade the top of the Lookout, and a week's steady rain sent most of the road building contractor's crew home lest they get mired in the mud, which freed-up the 400 for me for the day needed to do the work. What I got done was to slice off the very top of the hump to close to the level of the top of the main ramp, and slope the top of the cliff to the South. Launching to the South is now a whole different story. It is not a cliff! It is more like a ramp that is hugely wide, but made of shale. Most of what you run on is original ground - that is rock that has been cut - rather than fill, which it is, of course, lower down. I launched off it with HG the next day in light conditions. It worked perfectly. Garth Henderson did the same two days later with PG - it worked perfectly once more. The latter is of note, as he first tried to launch on the North ground in what has become the usual rotor, swirl around routine that the PG have been doing in South conditions. After several tries to the North, he was basically gone in one to the South! We are currently talking about spreading old hay over much of the freshly worked area by way of a mulch, to cover the sharp fragments and provide some cover for grass growth.

THE NICHOLSON LZ is stable, although we still go from year to year. It was for sale for half a million dollars, but there were no takers. The owners are now living on the property, in a new house they had built in among the trees far down the road.

THIS YEAR'S FLYING? It was not really a very great season. It was more spread out than last year, but it just never seemed to get settled in. I recall flying with cloudbase at 8500 - the top of 7 is about 8300 - and actually diving down to get underneath the next cloud one day. This was a first for me. Having said that, there was a week that the HG's from the League were here - they picked the right week. There were some personal bests that week, in terms of duration and out & returns. Another week there were some very squally conditions. A whole complement of HG & PG were caught in, naturally, the worst one. Luckily, everyone got down OK, depending how you count one HG that got very suddenly stuffed into the the ground from about ten feet off the deck, although he walked away, even if it was to the hospital for a check-up, which happily revealed nothing. In a similar but complimentary vein, I would like to mention Catherine. A novice HG on a single surface wing, she found herself in a strong South one afternoon, and definitely not going to make the Nicholson LZ. Next thing, she dedcided that it was also not safe to cross the river. To say that it was obvious that it was necessary to locate an alternate LZ may be very straight forward. It is just that after flying a HG here for six years, we had not found a bail out LZ for a HG on the East side of the river North of Nicholson, or at least not one that we would want to contemplate seriously. Catherine found one. It was not a piece of cake, although she pulled it off almost like it was. It was small, partly waterlogged, between the railway and a steep, bush covered embankment. She had to make manoeuvers to lose height to avoid overshooting dangerously, but without getting blown too far downwind to make the approach at all. The steep slope was kind of at the South end of the opening, which fitted in with the approach from the North into the Southerly flow, but it was also kind of to one side. She executed an uphill flare into the bushes on the slope - totally successfully. No hurt, no damage, a little arsole squeezing no doubt, but a happy ending. My point is that she kept her head. Theoretically, anyone else would or could have done the same; but how often have we heard someone saying, after some sometimes hairaising escapade, that they just froze? We did here earlier this year, from a HG who ended up in the top of some tall cottonwoods. (He and his wing were retrieved without harm or damage.) Possibly the reason that in six years we had never seen this spot as a bail out is that we have never been that low over that area. I do not know. This pilot kept thinking and flying all the way. I am still trying to think what it consists of, more than this little story, but Catherine gets the Golden Girl Award of the year.

ACCIDENTS IN 1997. There are nine entries in my file this year as of the time of writing, 23 September. This is quite a bit less than last year, when there were fourteen, and mostly PG. This year it is completely across the spectrum: PG, HG, novice to expert, solo and tandem, launches, trees and water. Injuries: one crooked neck (sounds almost comical like that, but may not have been) and some concussion. Definitely less than last year. Equipment: one toasted tandem PG, assorted reparable PG & HG damage. There were no rescues involving anyone other than pilots. That is, unless you count the use of a borrowed boat to retrieve a HG from a slough - a lake in other terminology. We may as well talk briefly about this one. Yes, one HG landed in the water. The reason was mostly leaving it too late to discover that he was not going to make it to a dry land LZ. He was flying what to him was a new wing, and his first with a VG: perhaps he expected it to fly faster than it did. The water depth was such that his feet were on the bottom, and he could see the surface just above his head, so he was able to make jumps through to the surface for gulps of air. In this manner he managed to extricate himself. About an hour later, he also commented that he was drowning. He did not, but I think it was close. We call him Aqua Man.

THE MEETS. At least they happened. Saturday was rained out, and then Sunday and Monday were really hot, but stable. As before, the flying before and after was good, especially afterwards this year.

THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM 1997? Most memorable flight: a long Spilli return - well, almost - with a lot of time over 12,000; or perhaps one to the North behind Moberly Peak. Most horrendous moment: when my truck said it had lost reverse and 5th two days before the August long weekend (it was just kidding). Shittiest landing: an ultralight that crashed in the sewage lagoons at the end of the airport runway! Yup! It really happened - swam away! As one of our non-flying friends remarked, "Lac La Turde"! Nicest visitor: a HG called Mike who flies the Owens a lot and lives somewhere not too far away from there. He came by with two ladies whom I guessed to be his wife and sister, and their son of about ten years. We only got a sledder that evening, but I enjoyed their company. It is not always the most dramatic that stays with you.

THE UGLY STUFF - money. It is too early to add it up for the year yet. There is quite a bit of it moving in both directions this week, although you can guess which is the greater flow. In principle, we should end up as usual with everything done and covered, but nothing more than a nominal float for the winter for those odd bits and bobs that always come up. So if I assail you with evac box keys, I do not want to lock you up, I just want to rejuvenate the credit union account. (Maybe ransom would yield a greater return?)

THE SKI AREA - oh, yes. This has been a community owned, non-profit society operation. It is about to be sold, taken over and expanded by a private business. A referendum just this Saturday came out 95% in favor. This means this is really going to begin to happen. I say begin, because there are many more stages to go through before anything physical happens. One of the new owner's main thrusts is to install a gondola to the height of land at the head of one of the drainages above the present area. Another of their interests is to have as many drawing cards for their development as possible. They see flying as one of those. I have been approached on this basis, and will be submitting a proposal that will aim to secure flying rights for HG & PG in the name of the BCHPA. That is as much as the concept has been developed at this time. Anyone wishing to know more should contact me directly. This proposal is my next task when I have this article e-mailed off to editors Tia and Randy.

So, in between wondering whether a new XC, Fusion, Predator, Laminar, Shark, or perhaps a somewhat used Klassic, would bring me any closer to Nirvana in the skies next summer than flying the proven, tried and trusted AT some more, I had better get on with it.

See you under the clouds.

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 23 September 1997

[Webmaster note: again the following is a repeat of the previous article, probably intended for a different publication.]

97 at 7
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Golden Star?, 04 October 1997)

As busy as I seem to be, I am trying a more compartmented format for my story from Mt 7 for this year. The idea is to get the business out. The other stories I come up with - I won't say "write" - no one writes anything any more, they tap it into a keyboard, but to say the stories I "tap" sounds silly - are much more fun. There are a couple of those sent out, and several more in my mind, existing as blank files with headings like "On Getting High", "Flashbacks from 7", and "On Radios". So, to business.

THIS YEAR'S FLYING? It was not really a very great season. It was more spread out than last year, but it just never seemed to get settled in. I recall flying with cloudbase at 8500 - the top of 7 is about 8300 - and actually diving down to get underneath the next cloud one day. This was a first for me. Having said that, there was a week that the HG's from the League were here - they picked the right week. There were some personal bests that week, in terms of duration and out & returns. Another week there were some very squally conditions. A whole complement of HG & PG were caught in, naturally, the worst one. Luckily, everyone got down OK, depending how you count one HG that got very suddenly stuffed into the the ground from about ten feet off the deck, although he walked away, even if it was to the hospital for a check-up, which happily revealed nothing. In a similar but complementary vein, I would like to mention Catherine. A novice HG on a single surface wing, she found herself in a strong South one afternoon, and definitely not going to make the Nicholson LZ. Next thing, she decided that it was also not safe to cross the river. To say that it was obvious that it was necessary to locate an alternate LZ may be very straight forward. It is just that after flying a HG here for six years, we had not found a bail out LZ for a HG on the East side of the river North of Nicholson, or at least not one that we would want to contemplate seriously. Catherine found one. It was not a piece of cake, although she pulled it off almost like it was. It was small, partly waterlogged, between the railway and a steep, bush covered embankment. She had to make manoeuvers to lose height to avoid overshooting dangerously, but without getting blown too far downwind to make the approach at all. The steep slope was kind of at the South end of the opening, which fitted in with the approach from the North into the Southerly flow, but it was also kind of to one side. She executed an uphill flare into the bushes on the slope - totally successfully. No hurt, no damage, a little arsole squeezing no doubt, but a happy ending. My point is that she kept her head. Theoretically, anyone else would or could have done the same; but how often have we heard someone saying, after some sometimes hairaising escapade, that they just froze? We did here earlier this year, from a HG who ended up in the top of some tall cottonwoods. (He and his wing were retrieved without harm or damage.) Possibly the reason that in six years we had never seen this spot as a bail out is that we have never been that low over that area. I do not know. This pilot kept thinking and flying all the way. I am still trying to think what it consists of, more than this little story, but Catherine gets the Golden Girl Award of the year.

THE "EVAC BOX", as I call it, arose from one of last year's accidents, and is now in place. Once again, there will be a separate article on this, but quite simply it is a very secure, steel storage box, installed in the ground beside the North ramp, containing emergency first aid and evacuation equipment. I am selling keys for $10 a key. This will help defray some of the costs of this project, and provide you with access to it. The idea is to get lots of keys out there, to maximise the chances of there being someone there who has a key when this equipment is needed. I carry some in my brief case, which I usually have with me at any time.

ROAD BUILDING has been happening on the mountain, but unfortunately not anything that benefits us. It is a six kilometer traverse Eastwards into the Kicking Horse Canyon, starting at the point where the Main rounds the corner into the canyon. Since this new road accesses more wood on the mountain, it has to take the interest away from the upper North face for several years, which means we are still faced with dealing with "the road".

THE SOUTH LAUNCH has opportunely benefitted from the present road building. In fact, there has been a silver lining to the demise of the proposed new road. Firstly, the concerns of excess people and all that might entail go away. Secondly, there was a 400 excavator on the mountain. To those who do not deal with these things, this means a great big monster of a machine that can "dig" rock that is not too hard. A few more negotiations, meetings and another proposal later netted me the written permission required to grade the top of the Lookout, and a week's steady rain sent most of the road building contractor's crew home lest they get mired in the mud, which freed-up the 400 for me for the day needed to do the work. What I got done was to slice off the very top of the hump to close to the level of the top of the main ramp, and slope the top of the cliff to the South. Launching to the South is now a whole different story. It is not a cliff! It is more like a ramp that is hugely wide, but made of shale. Most of what you run on is original ground - that is rock that has been cut - rather than fill, which it is, of course, lower down. I launched off it with HG the next day in light conditions. It worked perfectly. Garth Henderson did the same two days later with PG - it worked perfectly once more. The latter is of note, as he first tried to launch on the North ground in what has become the usual rotor, swirl around routine that the PG have been doing in South conditions. After several tries to the North, he was basically gone in one to the South! We are currently talking about spreading old hay over much of the freshly worked area by way of a mulch, to cover the sharp fragments and provide some cover for grass growth.

THE NICHOLSON LZ is stable, although we still go from year to year. It was for sale for half a million dollars, but there were no takers. The owners are now living on the property, in a new house they had built in among the trees far down the road.

ACCIDENTS IN 1997. There are nine entries in my file this year as of the time of writing, 23 September. This is quite a bit less than last year, when there were fourteen, and mostly PG. This year it is completely across the spectrum: PG, HG, novice to expert, solo and tandem, launches, trees and water. Injuries: one crooked neck (sounds almost comical like that, but may not have been) and some concussion. Definitely less than last year. Equipment: one toasted tandem PG, assorted reparable PG & HG damage. There were no rescues involving anyone other than pilots. That is, unless you count the use of a borrowed boat to retrieve a HG from a slough - a lake in other terminology. We may as well talk briefly about this one. Yes, one HG landed in the water. The reason was mostly leaving it too late to discover that he was not going to make it to a dry land LZ. He was flying what to him was a new wing, and his first with a VG: perhaps he expected it to fly faster than it did. The water depth was such that his feet were on the bottom, and he could see the surface just above his head, so he was able to make jumps through to the surface for gulps of air. In this manner he managed to extricate himself. About an hour later, he also commented that he was drowning. He did not, but I think it was close. We call him Aqua Man.

THE MEETS. At least they happened. Saturday was rained out, and then Sunday and Monday were really hot, but stable. As before, the flying before and after was good, especially afterwards this year.

THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM 1997? Most memorable flight: a long Spilli return - well, almost - with a lot of time over 12,000; or perhaps one to the North behind Moberly Peak. Most horrendous moment: when my truck said it had lost reverse and 5th two days before the August long weekend (it was just kidding). Shittiest landing: an ultralight that crashed in the sewage lagoons at the end of the airport runway! Yup! It really happened - swam away! As one of our non-flying friends remaked, "Lac La Turd"! Nicest visitor: a HG called Mike who flies the Owens a lot and lives somewhere not too far away from there. He came by with two ladies whom I guessed to be his wife and sister, and their son of about ten years. We only got a sledder that evening, but I enjoyed their company. It is not always the most dramatic that stays with you.

THE UGLY STUFF - money. It is too early to add it up for the year yet. There is quite a bit of it moving in both directions this week, although you can guess which is the greater flow. In principle, we should end up as usual with everything done and covered, but nothing more than a nominal float for the winter for those odd bits and bobs that always come up. So if I assail you with evac box keys, I do not want to lock you up, I just want to rejuvenate the credit union account. (Maybe ransom would yield a greater return?)

THE SKI AREA - oh, yes. This has been a community owned, non-profit society operation. It is about to be sold, taken over and expanded by a private business. A referendum just this Saturday came out 95% in favor. This means this is really going to begin to happen. I say begin, because there are many more stages to go through before anything physical happens. One of the new owner's main thrusts is to install a gondola to the height of land at the head of one of the drainages above the present area. Another of their interests is to have as many drawing cards for their development as possible. They see flying as one of those. I have been approached on this basis, and will be submitting a proposal that will aim to secure flying rights for HG & PG in the name of the BCHPA. That is as much as the concept has been developed at this time. Anyone wishing to know more should contact me directly. This proposal is my next task when I have this article e-mailed off to editors Tia and Randy.

So, in between wondering whether a new XC, Fusion, Predator, Laminar, Shark, or perhaps a somewhat used Klassic, would bring me any closer to Nirvana in the skies next summer than flying the proven, tried and trusted AT some more, I had better get on with it.

See you under the clouds.

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 04 October 1997

Texts © belong to each respective author. Quotation of text is conditional to showing appropriate credit accompanied by link back to the source page. Codes © Serge Web Service