Peter Bowle-Evans' Memorial

Peter wrote quite many articles about flying and mount 7. Here are articles written or published in 2000. Contributed by Brenda Bowle-Evans

AHPA - Thanks
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Air, March 2000)

So I went to this party early last winter. For those of you who did not experience the delights at Ron Docherty's 60th - and I can assure you, there were some! - all I can say is, “You should have been there!” Then Stewart Midwinter starts making this speech, and the next thing I am the focus of attention, holding this super picture of a recent scene at the Lookout, with a neat little brass tag on the bottom, cameras and all, and drowned in applause.

We do what we do to make a little more out of what we already have. Moments like these are special moments that really make one feel that is worth it. Thank you to Stewart for organising this, Lyle for the picture, Roger Nelson for doing the framing.

Most of all - “Thanks to one and all, boys and girls - it is appreciated and hit the spot!”

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, March 2000

It Was My Pleasure
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Air, 04 March 2000)

How many of you have approached an AGM with apprehension? I have. You probably got press ganged into it in the first place. I did. No offence anyone, but when everyone is grasping for who the heck is going to do THIS chore, and there is the usual squirming and worming going around, eventually someone gets stuck with it. I ran out of excuses that day. My wife complained. I grumbled. Strangely (?) everyone else either didn't care or thought it was a great idea. My boss was one of the latter. Hmmm. What is he thinking and not saying?

So I took part in the nightly online email group. This was not too hard. Maybe I even know what I am talking about. (There you are - shoot me down in flames those who disagree). Nevertheless, I was wondering just how the Calgary HPAC AGM would be. If you say it longhand, even the title is impressive.

The reality?
There is no other activity I have ever taken part in that has netted me more friends world wide, never mind all over this country of Canada, than HG/PG. The people I met and began to get to know over this weekend I found to be as sincere of a group of individuals and professionals as it has ever been my privilege to be part of. The same goes for many others I have met, dealt with, worked with, and yes, flown with! over the past ten years.

Kevin Thompson did a most excellent and professional job that weekend. Yes, it is work, but when approached the right way, it can be productive and rewarding. Kevin lead us that way. I believe that together, we were both productive and successful, and indeed have laid down some fresh guidelines that will enhance our sport. These things may take some more developing, but you will never find out if you do not try. You should know that with a person like Kevin Thompson at the helm of your sport, you are fortunate to be lead by such a man.

Unfortunately, I did not get to meet Andre Nadeau, the person who had submitted a significant proposal to take over this job, and whom we did vote in as our new President, but going by the recommendations of those who did know him alone, never mind the details in his proposal, I am sure that he is another whom you are lucky to have working on your behalf, and with whom those of us on the Board and Executive will get to work.

Kudos to Ian McArthur for taking on the role of Accident Review & Safety chair - I might add kudos too to Fred Wilson for having carried this one for I believe over 10 years - and to Gerry Lacroix who took over the Ratings chair from Lucille de Beaudrap, and to Lucille who has looked after this one for the past few years. As an aside, Gerry, by the way, has a remarkable nose for an interesting bar!

It is a fact that in the course of the elections of officers, I did state that I might be prepared to stand for the job of Vice President this time next year, and I stand by that statement. It is my intention to mentor from Kevin during this year. In the interests of continuity and to carry out a task properly, you need to know what it is about. If you have opinions on this - PLEASE ! convey them to me, or to Kevin, or someone in the group. If someone else among you would like to do it - Ha! Ha! Please also realize that, as I dare say you are aware, as I am, that there is shall we say, a trend, for new VP s to inherit the Pin.

A friend and I traveled together from Golden. On the way home, we stopped at the bakery at Lake Louise for a break, and I bought several loaves of their excellent bread. So excellent indeed, that they mysteriously ended their journey in his kitchen, not mine! This culminated in the inevitable email, “Peter, this weekend sure cost you a lot of bread!”

What other way is there to have a friend in every region of this country, from Halifax to Salt Spring Island? You will read details of the business elsewhere. For my part, I have to say in summary that:

It Was My Pleasure

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 04 March 2000

The Man
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Golden Star?, 13 May 2000)

The man strode up the mountain. At least, he strode as much as he could. It was effort, but then it always had been, and indeed this was even part of the point. Except, there were other reasons too, but somehow it was not the same. Where now there was conscious effort, there used to be a spring in the stride, a joy of just doing. He had figured it would take a little work to break through to that well being, it had before, but each time it seemed to take a little more. As he thought about these things, he caught sight of the little friend at his side, and these thoughts drifted away to where they should be - out of mind. Then he was getting there again, something seemed to slip off his shoulders, and he began - to flow up the mountain? It did not matter any more, he was just there, and that was what mattered. There was just the two of them, and that was also part of the point. The two? The one? Each on his own? Maybe me, perhaps - but enough of this. This is a here and now, and splendid it is. As they ascended, the world below unfolded, just as the world above welcomed them. Welcomed him - again. The wind flowed around him, as it flowed over the mountain, flowing over him as part of the mountain. He had spent so much time, so much of his life, up here. He had come to this place a long time ago from far away, just to be here all the time - or as much of the time as he could manage, and he had managed quite well. Riches are measured in many things, and his life had been rich with good ones, and he was happy for this. He just needed to keep in touch, keep being a part of it. It? What was the it? Was it here, like this rock, this tree, this ridge? Was it the river and the sloughs with the nesting birds far below? Was it the the winds aloft with the soaring eagles? It is all of it, silly. So to be a part of one part is to be a part of the whole. Then too, here was not just this mountain, but had been many over the years, although this one was special. He had crawled through its bushes, scrambled through its forest, he had worked on it sweating and toiling building roads and other things, its visage had been a backdrop to his very life since before his son was born - and now there is a measure of time. There had been adventures on this mountain too, adventures that to some might be adventures of a lifetime, but to us here, some we count as little more than just another day! Some we could do without, others stay pleasantly forever. Even the ones we could do without are good too in their way. There are friends, good friends, in these adventures. This place draws these people, and seems to hug them close once they are first befriended. Some of them are here above all other places now, because they only sit beside the fire in our minds now. Here we are closer. Closer to the air that can lift us up.

Then some time drifted by, and the man melted into the pleasure of the way up the mountain. Then, almost by surprise, as by now the way had become enough in itself, he was there. There was nowhere special really, not even the top, but just one of those spots that says, hey, you are here. He settled onto a spot of bare rock, wriggling subconsciously into a comfortable position among its wrinkles. In a living room beside a couch it would be ridiculous, yet here it was better than any couch by far. He let his limbs relax. They were tired, of course, but that was all right now. He looked down at his friend beside him. There was simple truth in those deep, brown eyes, that smiled up at him along the fury brown nose, a nose with shades of brown, long twitching whiskers on bright black lips that wriggled this way and that, shiny ivory teeth and a streak of white down his nose that set it all off, asking more plainly than any words just to go and play, for no more reason than the simple joy of living. His long coat wafted in the wind coming up the open slope from below, adding even more life to him, if that were possible. As he ran his hand into that silky coat, the wind brushed the man's face, and it was good. As the little fellow ran gaily to explore the trees and behind the big rocks, the man rose to his feet, spread his arms, and let the wind rush all over him. The wind pulled at his outspread arms, wanting to lift him up again - and he wanted to be lifted up. He wanted to be lifted up like in the dream when he was taking his first flying lessons, and he had forgotten his glider. This had been before he used to joke about being forgetful! So he had just spread his arms into the wind and flew anyway. It works in dreams! Now the man was far away, up over the mountain, in the world of the air above it that was what really made it so special. A world where eagles and others like he played. Played and lived, for this was living life.

Spiraling upward in one of the gullies one spring day, and woof, an extra punch from the thermal ripping up the head wall has the inside wing tip pointing straight at the rock ridge below. Another day, much the same spot, and that inside wing was vibrating. This happened quite a bit that day. Friends said later perhaps he was flying too fast - well, he had not been hanging about, that was for sure! Another time, over the edge of a bowl behind a front ridge, and just as expected - over the falls was really attention getting. Like slam, for a second seemingly motionless except for the wing rotated in front of his face, pull it in - or whatever the equivalent was in that situation - and into a dive that he figured must have been like the dive out of a loop. It worked, luff lines and all! Many other days were like clockwork. Pace, pace, pace down the ramp, and off and up right now. Climb here, make a move, climb there, make another move, and so on. Predictable thermals, easy perhaps, but the man liked to savor moments as they happened, rather than the sort of things that make better story telling afterwards than the events themselves. He had climbed in mountains in years before, never dreaming then that one day he would soar in front of the same sort of faces he clung to then, in each case in defiance of a creature born without wings and the pull of gravity. Then with a man made wing attached to him, he had sort of become another part of the skies above these mountains, and had sought out the nice spots to fly around in. Make a glide to reach another place to pause the run down the range, today will be smooth in here. Flying around in some of these spots, spots that no person would ever ordinarily be to look into, he had even followed the passing of the season some years, the changing of the foliage below and surrounding some distinctive bulge of rock. Then after a while, work up out of there and move on again. He would find little hawks down inside the bowls, and often do his best to follow their tracks. Several times their lead had given him a last save when he was thinking he had left it too late to find a way up and out. How could you thank them? When it was another pilot, you could thank them later, but a bird? Like the eagles that lived in the valley. They nested and raised their young in among the lakes and sloughs down in the valley bottom. They flew low in the spring, guarding their young and bringing food, or so the man had always thought. As the summer progressed, they seemed to fly higher, so that by August they were soaring as high as the clouds. Soaring with the eagles had always been another high point for the man. This had happened on quite a number of occasions, sometimes so close he could see, sense was the thought he had, the texture of their feathers. To play with an untamed creature has to be another of those age old dreams of many peoples, from the Inuit to the tribes in the deserts and jungles, and the peoples who lived by the seas. He felt so privileged to have lived those experiences. These were among his riches, that nothing could ever take away. Ah, yes, the clouds. As a small boy lying in the grass staring up at them they were fluffy cotton balls. When he was climbing they were all too often the portents of incoming bad weather. Now they were many things, from friends to danger. The sheer power of the currents of the air still impressed the man. So long as he could get away from them when he wanted to, they were fun. Sneaking up under them, gauging their strength, or rather the strength of the thermals creating them, was much of it. The fluffiness was disappointingly misleading. It was more like driving into fog. When you really went in, you really could not see, neither up nor down nor any direction. He had only done this once. It was clammy inside too. Often though you could drift in and out for a while, a bit like entering another dimension. Then too you were often quite high, and again, this was yet another dimension, when all reference to the ground, even on occasion to the mountain tops, ceased to have relevance, and it really was just him and the wing and the wind, traveling from nowhere to nowhere, just being up there. Just being there had much to do with it all. His house was almost on the mountain, and it rose above there in full view every day, so it was easy to learn its ways and moods. Like any creature, you have to live with them to get to know them. He and his friends, they had found the evenings. As this was their home, they were always there, and so when some might have thought a day was done, why not try? Those famous evenings; day after day sometimes, they had soared in peace for hours. When the hurly burly of the hot afternoons had subsided, huge, smooth lift pushed its way up this side of the valley. He had wriggled to and fro in front of the tops for hours, not going higher, but not going lower, flying in close, always on the watch, but in smoothness that defies description. You just have to be there. Sometimes the top would be far above the mountains, and he had flown in one long glide far, far down the range. It could parallel the spines, so that you went down as the spine went down, and up again as it went up, staying an even height above it all the way. Newcomers to the evenings had almost always had their expectations far exceeded. The flights with them, and the thanks from them afterward, were also among his riches. True, sometimes it was tough to get down! Where more normally, the trick was how to stay up, then it could reverse into how to get down. One night, a night when the clouds were flat bottomed as if cut with a knife, he could have carried on for an hour after dark, maybe more! He often wondered what would have turned out if he had. Perhaps better that he had not, for it was a very black night with no moon. So different from another night where that moon had been full and huge and round and yellow. The bits and pieces of life you remember. In the early evenings of some of the late summer days, this valley, this home of the man, basked and gleamed as invitingly as any jewel. He would choose his field to land, circle around and above it, absorbing the features of it again, feeling the warmth of the still gently rising air as he descended once again to where he knew he really belonged, but from where he would always wish to soar up and away from again another day. A last long glide, a flick of feet in the grass, and on the good days, a movement like a big stretch in the morning, and momentarily there would be the wing, the man, and the ground, all together and balanced - before he had to set the wing down and walk away.

The man let his arms fall by his side, opened his eyes, and curled up on the rock again. A nudge, warm breath, soft licks, and playful eyes saying, time to go! He hugged his little friend. Then, the man walked back down the mountain.

13 May 2000

The News from 7 - October 2000
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Golden Star?, 29 October 2000)

The Road

It is a done thing. It is now car style 2 WD all the way to the Lookout. The entire length constructed this year got surfaced out of this project, from the rock source at the top, so it should not be muddy. The rock is a tad on the sharp side - just the way it broke - but it will hold up better than the cornflakes type material used lower down. Since the new road is all across the north bowl, it gets basically no direct sun at all, so it will not melt off any faster in the spring. Since it is a real road, it will lend itself to snowplowing, but I do not see that happening next spring. There is a much bigger parking lot down by the cabin. No changes have been made at the launch site itself at this time, although there are some ideas. The final costs have still to come in, from which I will find out if there are any monies left over for possible work at launch.

The Nicholson LZ & Parking

The article in the last AIR referred to 3 options for parking. After talking this around, and discussing it with the land owners, it is coming to using the laneway to the house in the field. There are new steps, notice board, bench etc to be built, the old ones to be removed, and a domestic supply power line to be flagged, ballooned, buried, or otherwise avoided when approaching from the west. Apart from this, we can just drive on in and carry on.

Nothing further has happened on sale or purchase of this property.

The Meadows Meet

Those of you who follow the email will already know about this. For those of you who do not, after quite a bit of email discussion, GW made the application for the USHGA sanction and was successful. So, as it stands now the meet is on, dates July 15-21, full entry fee $250 US. BUT - he would like to see it as the Canadian Nationals for 2001 also, and the entry fee for us for that is $100 US. His concept is “a meet within a meet”. Note that this will not preclude any of us from entering the full meet. So, GWM will be developing the meet from here, advertising and promoting it accordingly. I will be providing local information, mapping and so on, for him to work with.

One of the things this meet means is that there is a proposal for the 2001 Canadian HG Nationals, at Mt 7, as part of this GWM meet. This will come up as a motion at the upcoming HPAC AGM in Ottawa in January, influenced I am sure by things like what other bids there may be.

What Now?

Any day now the thermometer is going to plummet, and it will snow. It is time for the other two passions in life, one of which is skiing. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is building for all they are worth, and for those looking for the virgin wilderness, there is this little place called Chatter Creek

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 29 October 2000

This article repeats a few items from the previous one.

As The Wind Blows
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Air?, 08 November 2000)

The wind seemed to blow a lot around 7 this year. At lower launch in the spring, we watched the clouds drift above from the south and east - that comes to from over the back. We would wait until it was coming up strong enough to counteract the rotors from the drift, but not so strong as to twirl us around on launching or drill us a few seconds away, and then go. We were rewarded with some fine flights. There is something so clean and fresh about the spring flying, with snow covered terrain below, and the bright green valley further below. Later on, from the Lookout, we flew ridge lift and thermals in the north bowl for hours, day after day. Then there was convergence - to me, this was new. Perhaps it was always there, and I just never realised it. There was no lack of gust fronts - these are becoming more obvious. As usual, a whole crew of both HGs and PGs leapt out right in front of one of them, and as before, were all lucky enough to get away with it. I do believe a couple of young PGs, one little more than a novice, were paying attention once it was too late. What can you do? Our conclusion, among those of us that might be described cranky old so-and-sos, is, after all the usual heedings, advice and warnings, ultimately nothing. We sort of pray that it does not take one of them to get killed to get the point across.

Wind on the ground was a bit of a feature too. As a little guideline, when you can clearly see waves traveling across the sloughs in the valley bottom from launch on Mt 7, or from the air while in flight, regardless of what the launching and flying may be like, landing is going to be challenging. There was a dislocated shoulder and a selection of broken tubing from HGs dealing with this one. At about 20 feet, you just don't seem to have many options when something a little bit dramatic happens suddenly.

PGs in trees - the number of these, 5 of them, nothing out of the ordinary. It was just that they were all over 3 days. All walked away, all canopies were retrieved, and all were easily repairable. Some helicopters flew, but basically due to third party calls. So, no bills to the Contingency Fund, for those who had subscribed - which was not all of them. Some procedural guidelines have been developed from these events. This will keep for a later issue, perhaps closer to next season. It is all good, so do not fret.

Anyone who came for the meets and was able to stay for about 10 days had a good time. Those who were confined to the 3 days of the August long weekend were less lucky. Saturday was super, Sunday was a gust front - that no one went out into - and Monday was pretty flat. Those who can manage to be around for a week or more generally are not disappointed.

August evenings did not let us down. After ten years of flying here, there were still a few of these evenings that I will remember. The one to single out was the one with Serge Lamarche and John Janssen, where the coming of darkness did nothing to diminish the everlasting lift, and even when we finally gave in to the need to see the ground on landing, it was lifting over the LZ too.

There was an ATOS visited one evening - actually, the evening before the night I just described - this person will hate me if he hears about that, because his evening was an extended sledder. The point is though, that with quite a nice breeze coming up, he launched it off the front ramp no trouble at all. In fact, I would have to say the wing flew away with less of a dive than most HGs would have. There was also no trouble balancing it on his own. Whether they are worth the dollars for all that is another matter, and it did take longer to set-up than a HG. Martin Polach flew his Exxtacy one afternoon in the fall, again an extended sledder, and that was the sum of rigid wing flights at Mt 7 this year.

To business.

The Road

The forest service built the next 2.4 km going on from last year's new section. As a result of funding applications that I entered into, the last kilometer to the Lookout has also been built - $70,000 worth. This is not a future event, it is a hard fact, a done thing. It is road of the same standard as what you have already been driving on below. It is car style 2 wheel drive all the way to the Lookout. There is a much bigger parking lot down by the cabin. In due course, there may also be a gate down by the cabin, in which case one of the locks on it will be one of ours. I have the lock already. BCFS would like us to put in this gate. Since the road is not actually costing us a cent, beyond administrative items, and BCFS is a contributor to the road and is supervising the work, they have a point. What they are looking for is made from 3" or 4" steel pipe. Welders - this is your chance! Either this, or some other form of vehicle control looks like it will be required. [Note from webmaster: any gate or vehicle control is a something to avoid as it would suck for all users.] The entire length constructed this year got surfaced out of this project, from the rock source at the top, so it should not be muddy. The rock is a tad on the sharp side - just the way it broke - but it will hold up better than the cornflakes type material used lower down. Since the new road is all across the north bowl, it gets basically no direct sun at all, so it will not melt off any faster in the spring. Since it is a real road, it will lend itself to snowplowing, but I do not see that happening next spring.

Just so you all know, part of the funding negotiations included that I agreed that we will maintain the new section of road. This is not as bad as it may sound, and is what we have been doing for the last 10 years already. It has amounted to about $1000 per year, and this year's expense is actually pretty close to that now when I add in all the items involved. As a corollary to this, BCFS wants to provide us with the right to charge pilots a fee for use of the road. Currently, it seems we do not actually have a legal right to do this. I think they are going to give me/us this right whether I/we like it or not, and whether I/we use it directly or not. I am not sure how I/we will deal with this, but if you find yourself being asked for money for the road/road use, this will likely be where it is coming from. [Note from webmaster: again, payage at the road is not going to happen. Money can come from donations or fund raising.]

No changes have been made at the launch site itself at this time, although there are some ideas. The final costs have still to come in, from which I will find out if there are any monies left over for possible work at launch.

The Nicholson LZ

The concept of acquiring this is starting to come to the forefront. Columbia Basin Trust was the source of 50% of the road funding, and from a small part of the CBT program. Land acquisition, relating to both specific use and some form of environmental preservation, is a specific section of their mandate. Further, one of the Land Acquisition committee members is friend come business acquaintance of mine. I taught her daughter skiing, she was a lead to the road design funding, and I deal with her on BCFS Woodlot matters. Further, there is an environmental group in the community who has some resources and is looking for a land acquisition opportunity. This is the same group that I/flying site funded 50% of their summer staffing costs through a Manpower program a few years back. So, there is a conceptual reality, and a partnership possibility to this plan. It can be expected to require a monetary contribution from us, so, once again, if you get approached for $$ or hear of a call for $$ for the NLZ, this should be where it is coming from.

Parking

Many of you will have seen the email on this. Some of the Nicholson residents have finally had almost enough. It is amazing it has taken this long really. It really did get a bit much during meet week this summer. What this has to come to is some other parking arrangements than what we have been doing, which is simply to park by the field, be it off or on the road. There are 3 options:

  1. The laneway to the old house in the field
  2. The “small” field close to the river
  3. A laneway strip inside the field, bounded by a new fence we would have to build, running parallel to the field.

1 is the easiest to setup, 2 would keep traffic from even going along the road, and 3 looks to be the most expensive but landing wise the best. Which or whatever we try, please go along with it when you are here. At the time of writing, after talking this around, and discussing it with the land owners, it is coming to using the laneway to the old house in the field. There are new steps, notice board, bench etc to be built, the old ones to be removed, and a domestic supply power line to be flagged, ballooned, buried, or otherwise avoided when approaching from the west. Apart from this, we can just drive on in and carry on.

Nothing further has happened on sale or purchase of this property.

The Ski Area

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is the name. Grouse Mountain Resorts is who is to manage the actual ski area. By specific, official request 3 of us made a demonstration flight from the top gondola station site one day in late summer. It was just a sledder, but it made connections the right way.

A “GW Meadows” HG Meet

Those of you who follow the email will already know about this. For those of you who do not, I have been approached by GW Meadows to run a Class 2 HG meet here next year. Note which way round this is - he came to me, through Chris Muller. So, after quite a bit of email discussion, GW made the application for the USHGA sanction and was successful. As it stands now the meet is on, dates July 15-21. The Willi and the August long weekend at Mt 7 remain unchanged. Now I know there are all sorts of reservations re-his meets, not the least re-cost. The full entry fee is to be $250 US. BUT - he would like to see it as the Canadian Nationals for 2001 also, and the entry fee for us for that is $100 US. His concept is “a meet within a meet”. Note that this will not preclude any of us from entering the full meet. This might also be the time to renew acquaintance with Range Rover North America, and what was called the Canadian Odyssey - something that happened at Mt 7 ten years ago when I first started flying. I may be all wet, or barking up the wrong tree, but from the road, through the new ski area, and a more major - higher profile - sponsored HG meet, to the Nicholson LZ makes that Nicholson LZ that much more plausible. As I said in an email on the NLZ this fall, if I have a personal goal, it is to nail down that Nicholson LZ in perpetuity. My sense is that this sequence of events is an opportunity worth exploring.

So, GWM will be developing the meet from here, advertising and promoting it accordingly. I will be providing local information, mapping and so on, for him to work with.

One of the things this meet means is that there is a proposal for the 2001 Canadian HG Nationals, at Mt 7, as part of this GWM meet. This will come up as a motion at the upcoming HPAC AGM in Ottawa in January, influenced I am sure by things like what other bids there may be.

What Now?

Any day now the thermometer is going to plummet, and it will snow. It is time for the other two passions in life, one of which is skiing. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is building for all they are worth, and for those looking for the white virgin wilderness, there is this little place called Chatter Creek

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 08 Nov 2000

On Radios & Wizardry
by Peter Bowle-Evans (Golden Star?, 25 November 2000)

Where would we be without the wonders of technology in free flight today? Unable to communicate, not knowing our altitude, rate of ascent, heading, airspeed, windspeed, speed to fly to goal, or to direct our drivers, order dinner ahead of time, call home, call the office, check up on the staff, check the email, make a few quick stock trades, download an audio-visual and space-and-time record of our flight and analyse the fine details with mathematical precision; indeed, even to know where the heck we are in at least three co-ordinate systems - we would be like space travelers projected into the ever expanding universe that leaves them further and further marooned in nothingness and nowhereness.

From the marvels of the vox unit, I now know just how much effort some of my friends exert in the flying of their hang gliders, as one day every huff, puff, pant and grunt was relayed faithfully to my ear. Just how much grunt he exhorts while engaging in certain other physical activities is open to speculation, but I know what my leaning is toward.

The simple radio is a truly a masterpiece on its own. I have yet to come to the end of the permutations by which one can function other than as the manuals describe. At one time I had as many as eight or more connections on my system, by the time I was hooked in, any one of which alone could, and did, provide puzzles and amusement. After I got smart and re-configured the system, getting it down to half this number, things got much more challenging as more quirks arose from less obvious sources. A good radio livens up the dullest flight. You just never know what it will do. Well, actually you, because they follow every version of murphy's law that ever was. So, when you wish to convey something of importance and immediate relevance, such as 'this air is not suitable for novices', as happened to me one evening, or 'I will be landing at such-and-such spot in five minutes and it is in the opposite direction to the way I said I was going to fly before I launched' - there is, of course, no conceivable way that anything will be received, at least by anyone that matters. Whether these messages are actually transmitted could be a subject for a post doctoral thesis on space-time continuums. If they are, then there must be a huge repository of them somewhere. Anyone gaining access to it should be able to trace many pilots' entire life histories, just supposing that there was a web browser tailored to searching through it. Conversely, of course, should you inadvertently curse - not that any of you do, you understand - or if you should be chatting with someone about the hamburgers you ate for lunch, then every syllable, complete with tone and inflections, will be meticulously both transmitted and received far and wide. Skips will jump several hundred kilometers, and the content will be relayed from HG to sailplane to base stations to 747's, and pretty soon multinational astronauts will be coming back with requests for details on the fries and gravy. We must realise that the humble hamburger is very likely a much dreamt of luxury for those marooned space men, and seeds of discontent must not be sewn. This must be the real reason behind the regulations against frivolous talk over the air bands.

Partial receptions are always good IQ tests. Notice I say receptions, as the relationship between transmissions and receptions seems to be an unknown akin to life after death; you just are not able to be at both ends at once - at least until we all fly with flight recorders, and until hijacking of HGs and PGs becomes a problem, this is hardly likely. Come to think of it, close to some international borders, this could be not so far fetched. 'You vil vly me to town Greener Grass in country of Utopia or I vill shoot you to death, avter ve land.' How about a section on hijacking in the tandem manual? It shouldn't be boring. I digress. Take the word 'die', or was it 'dying'? - on its own. No one in their right mind would say they were dying, would they? Obviously, their battery is dying, maybe for their vario or radio, so we just won't hear anything more from them till they show up somewhere. Great, let's have a beer! Too bad we will have to drink theirs too! You know, one day, the message really was, 'I am going to die'. It was one of those episodes, although happily he thought wrong, and lived.

Never mind for a moment whether or not we can tell anyone what we are doing or where we are going right now, so long as we know. Providing we have taken the few simple steps of programming all the world's airports' coordinates into our GPS, along with some of the more likely places we might actually fly to, have flown the requisite umpteen sledders to calculate our polar - we won't discuss pilot weight gain just now, have successfully correlated all the corrections between the input from our airspeed indicator, our GPS, and perhaps that polar, and have kept it straight in our head - no, in our programming, that altitude does not require a correction, have correctly set our launch altitude in relation to our potential LZs, bearing in mind AGLs, MSLs, Ms, ft, inches or mms of mercury, time zones, UTM zones - you do know there is a UTM zone line running plumb through the middle of Calgary, don't you?, declination - this one is for real in Canada, and possibly angle of dangle, we will have no trouble at all charting our course, following our coordinates, inputting our requirements, and obtaining projections of our necessary speed and heading to fly to arrive precisely at our intended goal and at an equally precisely pre-calculated time. Plainly we will have no difficulty evaluating the windspeeds along the intended route. Why, we can call up any number of meteorological services, which should be able to automatically input a steady stream of data to our equipment. What do you mean, you have never heard of Yahk? Actually, we could do the whole thing from our PC at home, without all the messy details of not having a driver, wearing out the SUV, getting cold, scared or sweaty and dirty. We could get a much better print out from the laser than the minuscule inkjet we plug in to the cigarette lighter. You mean you don't have one of those yet?

As a friend pointed out one day, it is so much more satisfying to know that instead of having flown about forty-five kliks, you flew 38.2, or as I can imagine that instead of 'blasting me out of there like a cork out of a bottle', it was 1813.02 fpm for 79.75 secs.

At least when we do get down on the ground again, even if no one else knows where we are and how great our adventure has been, or even we do not ourselves, it is comforting to relax in the knowledge that we can check our investments and make whatever trades we deem necessary - providing our cell phone is not so small that we cannot find it without our glasses on. We will assume that we were thoughtful enough not to forget those glasses, or the little gizmo with which we connect the cell to the palm PC. Further, now that the location of any cell phone can be traced once it is turned on, we can be retrieved with no problem. At least the cell phone can, even if it is in bears stomach. Biologists need to develop an environmentally acceptable puke potient for the retrieval of non-biodegradable cellular telephones from man eating carnivores. As a Parks Canada warden once remarked to me, 'we do not want the bears to have indigestion'. Please fly in digestible, biodegradable clothing.

Me, I like my simple vario, with numerals large enough I can read it without my glasses on, and buttons big enough I can press them with gloves on. It dies every now and then too, but so far I have not. Myself, by the time I get away from the office and all the PCs, RAMs, DRAMS, SDRAMS, RAMBUSSES, GIS, GPS, SA, UTMs, NADs, EDMs, TTMs, TINs, DEMs, DTMs, PLYs, GWN, USTN, UCMs, BATs, CFGs, GBs, NSs, routing, cabling, transfers, protocols, gender benders, passwords, codes, equipment that is NFG right out of the box, incompatibilities, multitudinous mismatching formats and medias, data recorders and downloaders ......... anyone in this domain will have their own pet list, I have had enough of it! For pleasure and fun, I want as little of all this as possible. Once I am airborne, in a sense, I don't care where I am, just that I am flying. In fact, I quite like that I simply disappear for several hours. With my simple gaze that has retained its long range faculties very well, I find I can tell where I am quite effectively. As to how high, the mountains are a pretty good yardstick, and vario does his job, although the pit of my stomach, which requires no batteries or programming, also tells a story. Some of the sensations that flow from my hands, along my arms and through my shoulders tell me all sorts of things about the air and thermal conditions I am actually in, and the clouds and soaring birds tell me things about the air currents in other places. My ears, dulled as they may be from years of air driven equipment, loud stereos, and just plain years, still hear the sound of the wind going by with so many varying tones, and my face can feel the coolness or warmth of that same air. In this, perhaps the most free environment I know, in the absence of a bank of electronic beeps and bops requiring constant attention, I can enjoy - what do you think? Free flight !! One of my friends with whom I fly most regularly does not even own a vario, let alone all the other wizardry. Know what? He flies, perhaps not quite always, but most often, higher, further, and for longer than any of the rest of us - and his wing is not new either.

I read several articles now about HG pilots who have sort of re-adopted a slower wing. The more usual term for these wings is beginner or novice, but since these are very far from beginner pilots, I am just calling it slower, which they are. It seems they are having a lot of fun, and they are also competing with them, in various ways.

What about a meet where the big rule is, “No electronic wizardry”? In the interests of safety, I am sure we would have to allow radios. All the rest - leave it all behind.

How about it - free flight anyone?

Peter Bowle-Evans, Golden, 25 November 2000

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