Peter wrote quite many articles about flying and mount 7. Here are articles written or published in 1998. Contributed by Fred Wilson and by Brenda Bowle-Evans
It is almost fascinating what a human body does when it is pendulmmmed (screw the spell checker, lets try again) pendulumed into space and then dropped like dead meat from about twenty feet onto a steep and rugged slope. It sort of bounces and leaps as it rolls over and over and over and down and down. It is also the end of the day's fun if it happens to be you or if you are there and are among those who get to deal with it. This happened to a PG one Sunday afternoon a couple of summer ago at the Lookout at Mt 7. It was a blown launch, and that part has been discussed previously. The major feature of the whole event, as it relates to the present topic, was that although we had a helicopter with paramedic on site within fifteen minutes, there was two and a half hours or more of waiting time to get the local PEP search and rescue team on site with their emergency evacuation equipment. Now, two and a half hours to gather a crew of about half a dozen persons from the furthest extremities of a rural district on a Sunday afternoon without any warning, and get them up on top of a mountain, is, in my opinion, not bad: but it was one hell of a long time up there, and that is just for the rest of us. For the guy lying there in agony it must have been a lifetime.
For those who have not heard this story, the bones of it are that the search and rescue crew did arrive, were suitably equipped and knew what to do, got our pilot up into the waiting helicopter, which whisked him directly to the hospital in Golden, from where he was later transported to Foothills in Calgary, where they exercised their customary excellent body repair operations, and when I next saw him the following spring he was dancing around like a jack-in-the-box. That is the first of the good part.
In the aftermath, which began as the dust from the departing helicopter inserted itself into every crevice of our clothing and anything else not half a mile away, and which in some respects is still ongoing, another set of facets of the reality of regular flying activities at this site inserted itself into our midst demanding attention like a new born baby. What if? What if? What if?
What if the injuries had been life threatening - could we have managed without the local search & rescue crew, without the basket stretcher? What if no helicopter had been available? What if all those people had already been called out elsewhere? What if no government sponsored organization would cover the costs of this sort of operation? What if no such organizations would even have anything to do with something like this? What if it had been screaming out loud pain? And so on ............
More positively, if there had been the necessary equipment up at the site, could we not have used it? After all, we had the paramedic there to direct us. Could we have some sort of contingency fund in place to cover immediate costs and get a rescue going? Could we have some sort of launch guidelines that might prevent this type of accident in the first place? Could we do something physically to the launch site that might do the same thing? And so on .....................
Well, there was a little money in hand to start with, some favorable community response to our taking active steps in this sort of direction, some individuals who had made overtures over the years of doing something for the site one day, and we had a desire, in my mind at least, to not want to be standing there some other day in a similar or worse situation ....... and having done nothing about it.
The evacuation equipment seemed to be the most immediate and easiest thing to grapple with first. The PEP team were agreeable to using our equipment provided it met their standards. I saw no point in going to all the trouble but cheaping out and then having someone refuse to use the equipment one day because it was not this, that and the other. We debated over where to keep it. Down in town was voted the safest, but then when needed that will be the day that there are no vehicles, radios, cell phones, and so on at the site. Storage at the site meant a storage container, and it would have to be vandal proof. A concrete septic tank was one thought, but we paled at the prospect of getting one up there. Steel and concrete go together in the nature of things indestructible, and that is where HG Steve Ritchie came to mind. Steve is a welder and fabricator, and as I suspected and now know for a fact, a good one. He is one of those who had expressed a wish to do something for the site one day, and when I called him up on it, he was on side immediately. Fred Wilson responded immediately when asked for advice on the equipment. So, the task was set. Evacuation equipment to be kept at the site in a steel container.
Most of the equipment was obtained quite quickly. Design of the box was sort of a telecon to and fro over the winter, based on the ideas of installation underground, indestructibility, bullet proofness, water tightness and weather sealing at the door, all versus cost, availability of materials and weight. What Steve came up with is superb and I think a maximum. As it was, it burst a tire on his utility trailer hauling it out here, but his pick-up did manage the road with it all the way to launch. It is checker plate steel, 30" square and 8 feet long. The door has a rain gutter around it, and a covered system for a padlock so that bolt cutters cannot access the lock. We did pay him some for all this, covering direct expenses, but not nearly what it has to be worth. Many thanks to Steve Ritchie!
It was already black painted, but we added a bituminous coating on the outside and white paint on the inside. Then, employing a rubber tired backhoe, it was laid in its resting place, in the ground beside the old north ramp. If you stand on the ramp, it is just below you to the left. You pretty well have know it is there to find it, but at the same time it is right there and very accessible. It has a skookum padlock, with tumblers set-up by the local locksmith. I have since discovered, of course, that PG Bob Gardner is a locksmith, and had I known this earlier perhaps this part could have been expedited more easily: we live and learn. It took quite a while to get the right lock. However, these are locksmiths' keys. They are unreproducible at the local hardware store, or for that matter by anyone other than the original locksmith. Naturally, I have many keys to distribute. The idea is to get as many keys out to the site's users as possible, to maximize the chances of there being someone there who has a key when the equipment is needed. I say distribute: I am also calling it “sell”, and I am asking $10 per key. There is very close to $1800 into this project to date, including 100 keys, which come out at nearly $2 each. Since everything is paid for, every key sold nets dollars back in for use for the next project, whatever that is, or perhaps towards a contingency fund - subject of another story.
This project is a reality - it is there. The only major item that is not in it yet is the belay rope, but I hope to have it there by the time flying starts this season. When we get it, between the local PEP SAR team and members of the ambulance crew they will give a group of us a short training course in some appropriate procedures on site. It is not intended to turn us into first aiders, but to give us the means to effect the physical extrication of an injured pilot from a crash location to a transport vehicle, under the guidance of a paramedic or qualified first aider. It also does not preclude us from seeking and obtaining the help of the local PEP SAR team. The way their leader put it was that we can call them, yes, if we think we still need assistance, but in the meanwhile we can get on with it, and then when they arrive they would be fresh when we may be exhausted, and they would join in from there, using any combination of their equipment and ours.
Aside from pilots, others in Golden who have a key are the RCMP (detachment commander), the BC Forest Service (RO Recreation, Mr Jon Wilsgard), Canadian Helicopters, and the PEP SAR team leader. This means, for instance, that if you are on site, need a key but do not have one, the helicopter can bring one up if requested, and/or you can get one from any of these others. Of course, best of all is to have your own.
Possession of a key is obviously based on trust. If somebody goes to that box one day to help you, then you want them to find everything in it that is supposed to be there.
Then let us know, if we were not there anyway, especially re-consumables used, so that we may replace them.
|Where?||In the ground, immediately to the left of the old north ramp (as you face downhill)|
|What is it?||Steel box, padlocked.|
|Contents?||Emergency first aid and evacuation equipment
|Access?||Keys available from Peter Bowle-Evans - asking $10 per key.
(I keep a supply in my briefcase)
|Other items to come:||11 mm static line for belay rope.
Mechanical belay system
|Other desirable items:||Tree rescue equipment
Any other items anyone thinks may be useful
As mentioned in my last article on Mt 7 activities in 1997, there has been grading of the top of the knoll, creating a ground ramp to the south. “Rotor roulette” to the north, as it has been referred to, should now be reduced significantly if not entirely. This, which was in the works anyway, also addresses physical changes to the launch as mentioned in The Aftermath section. This is good.
Helicopters and even possibly SAR crews may not be so readily available in the future. Nothing is cast in stone at this time, but I intend to discuss these things in another article later on. This is not so good.
So for now, safe flying.
Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 24 Jan 98
The most enlightening thing about writing this piece is that I successfully persuaded my wife to break into the valentine's chocolates a week ahead of time, to fortify my resolve. Mind you, she has a rubber arm when it comes to chocolates, and it can be pleasantly surprising what contingency supplies can be on hand in our house. So, if any of you ever want her to do something for you, you have been told. You see, this is mostly about money, and that always takes a bit of chewing on. Well, I know, it's really about contingencies - the ones I alluded to in my previous piece, “The Evac Box” - but there is nothing like coming to the point.
So, to backtrack for a moment to the Evac Box story, we can recall that a couple of summers ago we had a heli-evac from the Lookout at Mt 7. This was at no dollar cost to the injured party, nor to any of our associations. This machine arrived following a cell phone call from the site. Now this is how it goes, or I should say, how it used to go. A phone call requesting assistance is made to the RCMP. Any of the valleys' RCMP numbers will do, as they are all call forwarded to Cranbrook after hours. The Cranbrook station is manned 24 hrs, 7 days a week. The senior officer on duty has the authority, but not a mandate, to authorize a helicopter rescue operation. In this case, he did so right away, and we are very thankful for it. For the search and rescue crew, it is a little different. Here, after a request is received concerning certain specific activities - and HG/PG are at the top of this list - a RCMP officer must make a site and situation assessment in person. This is why, after calling for the SAR team, you see an RCMP vehicle coming up after a while. Providing he/she/they concur with things, then they proceed with calling the SAR team. This is part of why we have already got the evac box and equipment in place, to not need the SAR team at all in some cases, and why, when you know them personally, calling up the team leader yourself can speed things up no end, because if he knows to expect a call, he can get started contacting his crew ahead of the official call-out. At present, and in the foreseeable future, these people are volunteers, but we should not neglect to consider that in spite of that, there may come to be a fee for their services, payable to some government agency. After all, they do have equipment, which has to be paid for from somewhere. For the time being though, the SAR team is accounted for; but the helicopter may not be.
Since the PG heli-evac from the Lookout that started the evac box, I have become aware of more of the inner details of that operation, and the potential ramifications. It seems that the officer on duty that Sunday afternoon was one of the more junior officers. He was the senior at the time by default as much as anything. Now, in his decision to “Go”, he did his job; but it seems that not everyone was in agreement with his action. This is not to say that any of the others might not have come to the same thing, and it is always so easy to be wise after the event. The point is that after all this went down, I am advised to expect that it in future there will be much more of a real decision making process, with “No” as a realistic option, than has been the case to date. Now, in some cases, a helicopter may really not be needed, while in others, it may be desirable but can be suffered without. In others, it may be simply the only way of effecting rescue. Certainly, the more dire the situation, the more likely that rescue operation authorizations will be given. However, the fact is that funding is on the decline on almost every front, be it government or private business. So, one day, the RCMP may simply say, “No”. This instantly leads to, “OK, so who IS going to pay?” Helicopters simply do not take off till they have a guarantee as to who is going to pay; they are just too expensive to run and maintain. This situation has, in fact, already occurred, around the same time a couple of summers ago. On this occasion, there was radio communication with a downed PG. He was down range somewhat over the back. As a visitor, he did not really know how to describe exactly where he was, and was far enough away to have to relay his radio messages through another pilot. At first, there was some confusion as to how much he was hurt, if at all. After a little while, the conclusion was reached, correctly, that his injuries were not too serious, and not life-threatening. The conclusion was also reached that he needed a heli-evac by virtue of his location, if for no other reason. Then again, you never know - sometimes a person may think they are OK but in fact not be. In this case, the RCMP said, “No”; and Canadian helicopters said, “Not without guarantee of payment”. Do you know what happened? Local PG Lyle Johnson put his MasterCard down. That's right, his personal MasterCard. I was talking to Lyle recently about this, and he said he was shitting himself. He knew this guy, yes, he had been staying at Lyle's house, but all of a sudden he was wondering just exactly how well did he really know him? Would he pay him back? Would he really have this sort of cash available? Some very strange things can happen to the nicest of people when money is involved, especially a lot of it. For that matter, just how much might this whole episode come to? This is not “some guy”, this is a real person who is right here in Golden. Ask Lyle about it sometime. Happily, the pilot did pay Lyle with no problem, but I wonder how many others would have put down their personal credit cards? Again, not everyone may have $800 to $1000 to $3000 credit available, no matter how genuine their generosity. Then too, if someone did this for you, how easy would it be for you to come up with these amounts at short notice? It is very unlikely that any random individual will have “no problem” with financing you for several months while you get it together. As you think about this, bear in mind that if you have been needing a heli-evac, you may well have a number of other financial matters to deal with, from lost equipment to medical expenses to time off work that you may not be fortunate enough to have insurance coverage for. Another $2000 for the evac on top of everything else may just not seem as vital as a mortgage payment or leg brace. Now, I realize this is a tad on the heavy side, and very often it will not be nearly so bad. Also, some of you perhaps do have these sort of resources readily to hand; but I have a very good idea that some do not. [Note from webmaster: an earlier accident involving a HG crash on mt 7 was similar. Karen Keller had to put down her credit card for the rescue to lift-off. The downed HG thought he had no injury but he suffered a concussion and was quite bruised on the face.]
So what do you do? In Europe, this sort of thing came to a head a long time ago. There were stories of helicopters hovering over stranded climbers asking for money or insurance cards and flying away when none was forthcoming. The sheer quantity of people was the saving grace, so that there were alpine clubs and outdoor clubs with many many thousands of members so that they could offer insurance with memberships at prices that even starving students could afford. I know, because I was one of them! You got your Austrian Alpine Club student membership, which you could actually find the money for, and you were covered - just don't lose your card. I imagine the HG/PG do the same or similar now. Here in Canada, our numbers are so small that these sort of things are well nigh impossible. Mind you, the HPAC manages to get us our $3 mil third party liability coverage, and which, of course, takes up the lion's share of our membership fees. On the basis of the track record of claims versus premiums, I have heard it suggested, a little light heartedly it is true, that we should simply be our own insurance company. Let's leave that one alone - what we are dealing with here does not involve liability but more finite costs. We have had some discussions with the local Canadian Helicopters people as to what order of money could be involved. $3500 has come up a reasonably comfortable figure. That is, if there were this amount permanently on hand in Golden, available for covering costs of helicopter operations with HG/PG rescues, they could see being prepared to engage in such an operation with a minimum of delay.
There, I finally spat it out - $3500! Possibilities for the manner of administering this ranges from being on account with Canadian Helicopters, to being held in some form of locally held trust account, to being held in a very ordinary savings account. In any event, there would need to be some form of authorization, to preclude misguided use.
Next comes the matter of replenishment of the money after use. Obviously, asking the rescued to repay is one option. He/she has by this time had the benefit of timely rescue, which without this arrangement they might not have had. They might owe their life to it, or just less hassle. Now, let's suppose there are 100 regular site users. I think this is a plausible number, including those who regularly stay for one to three or four weeks every year. This now means $35 each to net the $3500. If we gathered this sum just once, then there would be considerable reason to expect a “user” to repay in full: or we would have to have another whip around. If we gathered it every year, then we could look at a more voluntary user recompense. When I was first starting into HG, I was talking to Don, the resident Canadian pilot, and he said that he usually had to fish out one or two HG every year. I was a little taken aback at the time, wanting to hear things that would make it all sound kind of safer! In the past seven years though, this is real close to the average. Now, many of them are from launch, so the flying time and hence cost are not extreme. Since many if not most pilots fly with radios, our communication and hence knowledge of whereabouts is quite good. There are snowmobilers who could have saved days, yes days, of rescue operations if they had been equipped and followed procedures as we typically do. So it might be said that our anticipated rescue costs are plausibly in the range of an amount that could be put together by modest contributions from individual pilots.
This idea is not new. It has been called a 'helicopter fund' and other things. I call it a Contingency Fund, partly because rescue costs may not be limited to helicopters alone, besides other things to suddenly pay for. None of this is cast in stone. At the present time the previous status quo has not been removed, but it has come up for re-evaluation - and if it comes out as “no more” one day, we can expect to hear about it after the fact. Last year, there was no call out, so we do not know what would have happened then.
Think about this, talk it around, and form an opinion. If this or something like it becomes necessary one day, it will be much easier if we have thought it out ahead of time.
Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 09 Feb 98
[Note from webmaster: the contingency fund is now in place and was used a few times successfully.]
Fred says (Jan 2011): Now more applicable to the likes of Mt Mckenzie in Revestoke, Ymir, Slocan Ridge and Mt Lavina in the Kootenays, not to mention 8000' high Canoe Mt. etc.
This story was originally written for pilots familiar with the Mt 7 flying site at Golden, British Columbia, Canada. To appreciate the piece, all you really need to know is that the access road has enjoyed a certain reputation. Think of sliding backwards down an incline steep enough for the vehicle to flip end over end (it happened), being buried to the differentials in mud with a bush 4 x 4 (happened to me) or almost anything else to do with driving that you would NOT want to happen while going flying - we could probably challenge you to come up with one that did not happen on our road!
This guy phones up one day.
- I am going to spend two or three months in Golden this summer to go flying, and I have my family with me. What sort of car do I need to get to launch?
- TRUCK, I reply.
- I have heard something about four wheel drive. Does it have to be a four wheel drive car?
- FOUR WHEEL DRIVE TRUCK
- TRUCK - FOUR WHEEL DRIVE
- Wouldn't a truck be more expensive than a car?
- Do you want to get up there or not? Then when it comes time to leave, do you want to have anything left to sell or could you be prepared to just write it off?
There then followed a detailed description and discussion of the Mt 7 road, followed by an equally detailed discussion of the genealogy of the world's 4x4's, going into some of the finer mechanical components and their respective merits, demerits, initial costs and replacement costs and associated agonies. As there is no end to this subject, it went on until my wife hollered at me to stop talking about that HG rubbish because breakfast is on the table - and who am I to argue that? I was also accused of being negative, which may have been true.
To better appreciate my point of view, it may help to understand that I am someone who, in the name and pursuit of HG, has replaced:
It is not for nothing that I did investigate the costs of an aerotug. In fact, if I had gone for a sailplane flight before ever picking up a HG, I just might have stayed there on the basis of the Mt 7 road alone. My efforts to get this road upgraded are, I have to confess, not entirely altruistic. It would simply translate to vastly reduced vehicle maintenance costs for me.
Now, to put this in another perspective, and be more positive and encouraging, if you are only coming out on some weekends, or coming for the odd week, much of the above will - hopefully - not be mandatory. Indeed, PG have got rental cars up there in extended dry spells. We have seen 2-WD vans up there, although only briefly. They then went to Kamloops or the like, where the suddenly very tired automatic transmission was able to skim them along the highway. You see, if there is anything not quite right with your vehicle, and you can not put your finger on what it is, a maximum of three (3) trips - or attempted trips - up our Mt 7 road will render the condition unmistakably obvious. I am sorry, I was trying to be positive. Even the light duty flash trucks - the ones that are called trucks but are really not much more that cars with light truck bodies on them - with things like plastic drive line components in them, will get you up there for occasional trips. Oh dear, now that I think about it, one friend bought a new one of those, and, well, I suppose we would have to say he had made more than occasional trips - but at least the towing and general retrieval costs from the last switchback were covered under his warranty. Another pilot, sensing another major coming on for the third time, traded up in the nick of time. Know this: the dealers do not know these things. When they got stuck with the cost on this one - under the warranty of the next owner - it was a complete surprise to them.
Do not be mislead by body style. Some trucks come disguised as other things. They are usually ones that come with a pick-up body and an alternate. Indeed, some of these are among the better ones, and many of you already drive them.
Know what happens when you so smartly make it up there in 2WD with a posi-track rear end? All the clutches in it - did you know posi rear ends had clutches in them? - work like fury. If you do this with any regularity, and/or if the rear end is anything but brand new or rebuilt yesterday (and that means rebuilt, where they have actually done it all, not just said they had done it) and not just a "good used one" either - these clutches wear off the friction pads, then wear the plates, then the plates start to disintegrate, the pieces fall into the ring gears and for that matter all the gears in there, and tear the gears to bits. Now you really need a new rear end. My personal attempt at all this was to the Forest Service. Supply me with any decent 4x4 truck, along with a maintenance contract and a driver (no sense in not doing this right) and I will sign anything you want promising never to bother you about the Mt 7 road ever again. To date, they have not bitten. You know, in the long run, this would be cheaper for them!
As a bit of an aside, when I was at Willy Muller's doing an instructors clinic one fall, we all had to give a talk demonstrating teaching principles we had learned. Some of you will be familiar with this. We got to choose our own subject. Mine was about vehicles, and was called something like 'Survival mechanics for the HG pilot'. The whole thing was also supposed to be fun, so my pitch included some more novel ways of acquiring the money to pay for it all. The subject as a whole, though, was and still is extremely relevant.
OK, enough BS and inverse bragging. So, what is the ideal Mt 7 HG/PG vehicle? Here is my completely biased, self centered, know-it-all, I-told-you-so definition:
The Ideal Mt 7 PG/HG Vehicle is at least:
A north american or equivalent in size and guts, heavy ½ ton, four wheel drive, standard transmission, high/low range transfer case, locking hubs (that is for the unlocking on the highway), V-8, large radiator, all terrain tires, TRUCK, with everything in maximum mechanical condition, that has very recently been licensed and insured for at least six months, (this will cover the flying season), is owned by someone who has set up an open ended account at one of Golden's reputable truck repair shops (a list of these can be supplied upon request - there are some good ones), and who has recently died while on holiday somewhere on the far side of the world.
Peter Bowle-Evans Golden, 04 November 1998
For anyone contemplating a visit here, relax. Things have changed since I first wrote this little story. Sadly almost, the Forest Service have hugely up graded the worst stretches of this road, so that in good weather at least, 2 WD will get you there, though best not to be too low slung - there are still some water bars toward the top. We used to say that when we went flying, we always had an adventure, though not necessarily in the air. Perhaps now not so many of them will be on the road.
PBE 04 March 2000
I am now at the point where I can not remember if I have been flying for seven years or eight years. It is something like that, and includes a lot of flying. It includes a lot of other things too. When you look back at things, there are some that stand out, and many that do not. I am starting to realise now which flights I am going to remember. I am also realising which other things may stand out years later. As any of you who have been involved with flying for more than about an hour and a half will know, the actual time spent flying is the smallest part by far, so many if not more or even most of these things are not strictly about flying. So, just for fun and with no purpose or motive beyond entertainment, here are my "flashbacks from 7".
Flying down the range with nice smooth thermals everywhere I seem to need one, and not a soul in sight, because no-one else is here today. I have heaven to myself.
Looking down from 15,000 feet and realising that from here the Columbia valley is just one of many.
Blowing off that ramp and going up before I am half way down it.
Pushing out a flare, thinking I had blown it, and finding myself standing upright and motionless.
Having to come down lower to warm up because I am shaking with cold.
Blowing down to beyond Fairmont with Ron and Geoff on my second flight of a season from lower launch.
Listening to Geoff pant on the radio from his vox.
Seeing our HGs blown over while just stood up on their base tubes without the wings extended.
Seeing every conceivable item of HG/PG equipment in the laundromats and spread out and hanging up to dry all over town after a sudden squall coming after a long spell of dry weather sucked up the dust and pelted it back down on them in the form of mud.
My first bent down tube.
My first sail tear.
The first time my feet left the ground.
When I got sucked into the down draft at the bottom of a strong thermal.
The first time the zipper got stuck on my pod (same day)
Watching a PG land in water.
Realising that the hardest part of the flight was weaving my way through the other HGs falling out of the lift all over the place.
Eric on launch with a hangover.
Eric pounding in at Hunter's - I really thought he was hurt for a while.
Flying over the highway and seeing Eric's HG in the ditch by the road and the highway packed with stopped vehicles for a good mile. No radios, I did not know that in fact he was OK.
A visitor from England who was impressed by Eric: “The first time I saw him he was landing his HG on the highway. The next time he was riding a bull!”
Learning to fly with Eric. We learned three times as fast with two as by ourselves. They were good days.
Eric and I each flying 13 out of 14 days in a row. I had to take off a day to go to a meeting about HG, and he had a birthday and had to be taken out for dinner with his family.
Being handed a cold beer instantly after landing at Juniper Heights.
The day a 15 minute sled ride took six hours by the time I was back in my truck in town.
The first time I went slack - it was directly over launch.
Looking down and seeing a HG or PG in every conceivable hole down below.
Skipping across the top of a power line - my training wheels and keel actually hit it.
Oh shit - an emergency deployment. It worked.
Realising how weird it is when it is pulling you up like crazy in places where there is normally never any lift.
Flying on the West side of the valley one day.
The time I really learned to dress properly, having to come down because numbness from cold was working its way up my arms toward my shoulders - it was my first time over the mountain.
The first time I went up. I got cold then too, and had to work to get down.
Going out on a cooking day and seeing the ground come up at me like an elevator - Easterly flow.
Learning one day around Harrogate just how far beyond a ridge you can run into rotors. It can be much further than I had thought.
Part way to Harrogate one seemingly perfect evening and suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, getting trashed out of sight. It stayed like this all the way, and I only just made it. Looking back - an Easterly flow again - just came in while I was flying.
Getting dirt in my mouth after another shitty landing at Harrogate. Full face helmets work - it saved me any jaw or tooth injuries.
Climbing out over launch one day and my driver, a nice youg girl who was actually our summer engineering student and had become quite a good friend and companion, and who was the only other soul in site, is wearing basically the legal minimum and is spread out on the ramp for all the world (ie: me) to see, and I am doing my level best to get away - something is the matter with me!
Getting a ride back to town with the wife of the farmer whose field I had landed in.
Meeting another retrieval vehicle going the opposite direction to myself, looking for the same pilot. It was thundering and a torrential downpour.
Getting general abuse for being late home yet again.
Removing a jammed starter motor in the dark, with the mosquitos so thick they were like soup.
Smelling my truck come to the LZ. There is asbestos (parking brake on) and oil (driven in low range).
Watching these two people in the Forestry office going through a “tis” “tisn't” routine over stumpage rates. I had done my part perfectly.
The day that I was at the Lookout with a whole bunch of these Forestry officials, after we had downed the trees on the North side, and they finally realised that we really meant business.
The day that I was virtually threatened with the “Regional Visual Impact Officer”, and their reactions when they learned he was a friend of mine!
The day he addressed our concerns, and told the Golden folks that not only had they better give us the authorizations to procede (this was about the south side) but they had better get on with it without any more delay!
A fifteen minute sledder - but the moon was up, big and round and yellow.
The inevitable - not flying on the weekend because it is not real great, and the week has been awesome.
A flight one evening in air like silk, with Eric. He shot pictures, and got 17 aces out of a roll of 24.
Looking at a helicopter rummaging around way down in the Canyon one day, finding out later that he was picking out a drowned kayaker, and thinking that white water is dangerous. It was a super afternoon.
Changing two flat tires on my car.
Getting a flat on the new road - in 4 inches of pure, slick, slimy mud.
Another evening sledder with a nice guy from the Owens. He had had a 9 hour flight there recently. I liked his friend and family. It was just a nice evening.
An evening flight with Eric and Rick. Rick only flew 3 times that year, and lucked out every time. It was Sooooooooo.......... smooth, and went Onnnnnnnn......... and onnnnnnnnn........ Late August. It was pitch black before I had it in the bag.
Seeing these pinpricks in down in the valley, and it gradually sinking in that these were lights, that the sun had gone down - and this was as viewed from over the mountain where we were - I guess it is time to start flying down. This was with Pete and Eric.
Final glide in the dusk - same evening.
Changing downtubes in the dark and the mosquitos.
Getting up in the night to put the rain bag on my HG as it is pouring again.
Slowly descending into the valley on a fine, clear, warm summer evening, with the water shining, the fields glowing bright green, and it all looks like a jewel. Could this be Gaia?
The smoothest 1000 up I ever had over Moberly Peak one Friday evening. I went from 8,000 to 13,000 in five minutes. Conical peaks seem to give smooth lift.
Coming in to land in the afternoons and seeing that trees with eight inch stems are bending like blades of grass.
Having a snooze in the sun after landing out by myself somewhere downrange.
Letting myself go into the cloud one day - you really do lose orientation.
The year that it was hot, fine and good flying for six weeks straight.
When the top of the smoke from forest fires was about 12,000 feet. The valley bottom was obscured, and you could not really see the mountains on the far side of the valley. The visitors had a tough time understanding where they were.
I was talking HG in the campground one day, and my son comes along on his bicycle, “Dad, are you ever f...........ing coming home?!” It was a classic, and he had a point. He had been waiting for quite some time. He has inherited his mother's straightforward way of expressing himself.
Just hours and hours of thermalling over different peaks.
Fying down the range, and at some point deciding, 'let's play here today'.
Running out of gas while turning around in the middle of the highway at Relection lake. The fuel gauge did not really work. Both tanks were empty. We had to push it to get it onto the shoulder.
Cuising back to town one evening and realising none of the HGs were tied on. (They were OK)
Cruising back to town one evening and realising I had left a radio on the cab roof. I was lucky - it was still there!
All the times when the radios are working perfectly, but it does not really matter.
All the seemingly more frequent occasions when the radios are not working and it really DOES matter.
Taking out loans at the Credit Union.
Those classic Mt 7 days at launch when just everyone seems to be there, and everyone is happy. It is so colorful and party like.
The gun-shot like crack when a HG hits hard.
Cruising around 7 while I watch other HGs and PGs drive up, set-up, launch, fly, land and break down - all before I come in.
The day I was late in the afternoon, and the line up at the front ramp was like everyone but me, and about twenty of them. Just as I was ready, it came straight up the ground from the north. “Going on the ground, boys!” I was over 7 in minutes. It was just one pop. They were all jammed so close together they could not move in time.
An afternoon when it had sort of OD'ed for a couple of hours, and then looked like it was at least going to become launchable. I was there with Rick Smith. We sort of tossed - he got to go first, and off he went. By the time I got to the ramp - and we are talking 60 seconds - it was roaring like an express train. I never got a launch in. Rick flew to Wasa, and mostly only turned once - to the left to head south. The rest was bar stuffing. He launched at 5:00 pm.
I am at about 10,000 over the mountain one summer evening, and I hear Serge on the radio loud and clear like he was standing next to me. He was at about Fort Steele, and eventually ended up at Jaffray,
When we have been flying so much we are almost glad when the weather drops off so we feel we do not have to go up again today.
The night my chev threw another rear end. It just went bang - truck dead. It was 2 o'clock in the morning, on a retrieval, on my own, as much in the middle of nowhere as it comes in the valley. By some error of the gods, it was not raining. One of the last persons to drive it had been my sister-in-law, who drove it down the mountain the day before. No, I do not think it was any fault of hers. Now, if it had gone on her............you can imagine!
The day this little toy truck powered out at the top of the gun barrel - that is that really steep part on the way to the Lookout. As typical, it was hugely overloaded. In a flash, it was rocketing backwards down the hill, totally out of control. The tailgate fell open, and the contents of the back shot out - 2 pilots and a whole bunch of PGs (the bags). This guy is rolling down the road with the truck coming down toward him. The girl went over the bank bombarded with PG bags. There were - and still are - some stumps at the edge of the road that we had left one day, rather than pulling them, during logging operations, on the basis that one day someone might need one. Thank god we did. The truck hung up on one, and more than a scare, a few bruises and a bent bumper, that was it.
The afternoon I looked out of the office window and saw flames leaping up from lower launch!
About a week later when it happened again! Not quite out the first time.
The evening we burned the slash piles on the north side of launch. For a while, the whole thing was a mass of flames. Awsome can be a good word!
The afternoon I was walking back up to the top after another session of hanging clearing ribbons around the south side. It was wet, so I was sort of soaked and so on - when its nice we fly - and I hear some kids up top about to roll one of our water barrels over the cliff. I had spent the previous Saturday getting it up there, with the water in it, for fire protection for some burning. I was mad. I started hollering before they had seen me coming out of the woods. There were four of them, all twice the size of me, but I was so mad they stood it back up again like I ordered, and in the spot I point to without a word. There was a miracle. The radios worked! I got Eric, and he was down the bottom somewhere. He caught them on the road on their way down and reamed them out again! We never had any more trouble.
Wading literally up to my arse in a swamp to reach a pilot who had landed his HG in water. He had got away with it.
Getting a VG cord all tangled up with a bar mit as I approached the LZ one day. The VG was full on. It cost me the mit to get the VG off.
Those days when you are over launch at the first pass.
Those stupid days, when it is marginal at best and you know it, but you finally wind up all hooked at launch and wishing you were not.
A few other days, when it is plainly a corking good day, and somehow I can not go out. It is agony.
Watching guys launch from my office. It they do not go up - it's cool. If they do, and I wanted to go out, it's not!
Our secretary, who, when someone calls on a fine afternoon at say 2:00 pm, manages to say that I have “gone to check something out”.
The day I learned that we had really got $10,000 from a community funding program to spend on the launch development work.
What it is like when you see a HG crash in from a blown launch and he groans loudly.
We are all down in the LZ, as big development has been growing. There is this tiny speck tucked up right underneath this huge thunderhead. It is HG Eda.
Japanese pilots - they are always so happy.
I have been up for two or three hours and there is a huge black cloud pulling like crazy over the punch bowl. I head out, and as I do I see this PG going up under it like a cannon. I met him later on. He was another Japanese pilot. He now knows how to say, “My heart was pumping like crazy!”
The hug I got from Kayo after I leant her and her companions my truck with a driver so they could go flying their last afternoon before going back to Japan one year.
The day I went to Willy's with my HG as I scraped up it's nose wires the day before landing out for my first time. Where were you? He asked. I held my breath as I explained, as I had very little air time then and I had ended up about 12 miles down the valley and I was sure I was not supposed to do that yet and now I had been caught. I fully expected to get reamed out. I was amazed and relieved as he held out his hand and congratulated me on my first cross country flight!
Giving a draftsman in the office instructions over the radio one afternoon while thermalling.
Getting to see all those new HGs you read about in the glossy ads. I think we have seen most of them.
A HG from New Zealand who talked seriously about flying in cloud with a compass. I understand the idea - you know which way to exit, but I am not so sure about the whole thing.
The day Chris Muller flew his PG to Canal Flats and made a world open distance record.
The day of the famous August weekend glass-off, when there were over 100 entered in the PG Nats. The task was Open Distance - any direction. PGs rained down out of the sky everywhere from Donald to Radium until dark.
Soaring with eagles.
The first time I soared with a bald eagle - we went to and fro over the top of 7 checking each other out for about fifteen minutes.
The eagle who was so close one day I felt I could almost touch him.
The raven hanging out in the wind in front of the ramp. This was the time, the moment, that I said to myself, “Yes, I want to do this.”
The black bird who flew over me as I drove out to deal with a mud slide at work late one evening. Later that night I went over a bank, broke my neck, tore my diaphragm, broke my left arm nearly right off. No, I do not believe in omens. I started flying after this.
Circling around and around in front of the 7, day after day, shooting roll after roll of film, till I finally got the picture I wanted.
Landing almost on the railway tracks - no train coming. Not recommended, but it worked.
Climbing up under the PGs who have all just launched during the Nats - the sky is just full of them - and wondering how am I going to get through them. Answer: I did not, I flew away for a while and came back after they had thinned out a bit.
Getting stuffed into a dive that I swear was more than vertical going over the falls near Kapristo. For those who pull loops, this may be no big deal, but it caught my attention.
Doing up the zipper on my bag at Spur Valley one day, and I realising that the cattle who have gathered around me by this time are all bulls.
Going up into a dome above Brisco.
Landing down range and having to face the fact that once again, often for the umpteenth day in a row, I have no driver and my truck is probably still up at launch.
Seeing a helicopter deliver a net full of mountain bikes to the Lookout. If I had not seen it, I would have said I was a liar.
The Range Rover expedition. My boss got to drive one for a month. They were impressive, if expensive. This was actually what sparked off all the site development.
Meeting pilots from all over the world.
Going up with Mark Forsyth and flying as he gathered material for one of his CBC winter evening chit chat shows.
Getting up over the mountain again and saying to myself, “Here I am again - where shall I go today?”
Going through my equipment and clothing in the LZ as I am asked about certain pieces, and realising that aside from my HG and pod, almost everything has been made by wife: glider bag, harness bag, vario bag, camera container, bar mits, flying suit, jacket, turtle neck, shirt, she has sewn the tie straps I use and sometimes the seat cover in my truck might be one of hers, even on occasion down to, believe it or not, my underpants (you have to be measured personally for this). Added to this list recently is embroidery. Quite simply, Brenda is good at these things.
Getting a hug from Christina after I have moved several HGs and other stuff so she can launch with her PG.
Ski touring up above Whitetooth in the winter, looking across at Mt 7, and thinking, 'That's where we play in the summer.'
Looking over to Whitetooth while flying around 7 and thinking, 'That's where we play in the winter.'
Driving along the valley, and realising just how few of the fields beside the road I have not landed in.
Skimming over the top of the smoke at about 11,000 with Gerhard one evening.
Flying over two downed HG's in one week.
Realising how people accumulate a stock of things like broken keels, leading edges and crossbars.
Setting-up a new HG and finally accepting, 'Yep, this one's mine now.'
Rattling stuff into the computer and noticing it is about 3:00 am again.
04 November 1998
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