X Sky Paragliding’s El Nido Fly-in has best year yet

Pilots from across B.C. attend event and break site records

Clearwater locals Sigrid Vermeulen and Willy Rens, owner and operator of X Sky Paragliding, recently hosted the 10th anniversary of the El Nido Fly-in above Mt McLennan around Birch Island.

Twenty-seven hang glider and paraglider pilots from the Okanagan Valley, Kamloops, Lower Mainland and Bulkley Valley descended upon the Clearwater area for a free flying event that saw records in distance, altitude, flight times and new routes broken.

“I’ve gotten a lot of congratulations from all corners, even from Europe; they said this is pretty amazing,” Rens said of the 10-year milestone for the event.

“It feels good, of course, it feels like an accomplishment; there is a lot of work behind the scenes people don’t know about, but it doesn’t feel like work because it’s from the heart.”

Rens and his wife, Vermeulen, have been paragliding for 25 years and have done flights all over the world, including Europe and South America.

For those not in the know, paragliding is an adventure sport of flying para-gliders, which uses lightweight, free flying, foot launched gliders with no rigid structure, explained Rens.

The pilot sits in a harness, suspended below a fabric wing, with the wing shape maintained by the suspension lines, the pressure of the air entering the vents in front of the wing, and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside.

Despite not using an engine, paraglider flights can last many hours and cover many hundreds of kilometers, though flights of one to two hours and covering some tens of kilometers are more the norm.

By skillful exploitation of sources of lift, the pilot may gain height, often climbing to altitudes of a few thousand meters.

Some numbers for the records broken at the El Nido Fly-in include max altitude: 4040 m, longest flight: four and a half hours, free flight to Avola: 56 km and free flight to Barriere: 71 km.

Rens noted these are records strictly for the El Nido site as every site has its own records for various accomplishments.

El Nido got its name from a climbing trip Rens and Vermeulen took to Bolivia, where the base camp was named El Nido del Condor, or Nest of the Condor in English.

“We fly big birds,” Rens said of the para gliders. “Hence the name; So we shortened it to El Nido, the nest.”

After 10 years of hosting the El Nido Fly-in, Rens said this year was the biggest event yet.

Coupling that fact with all the site record that were broken at the fly-in, he toyed with the idea of ending the event while it was on a high note.

“We’re thinking, should we end this in glory and call it after 10 years? But I don’t think I can do it—it’s in my heart and it makes me happy to see other pilots coming up and having a good time. We’ll continue I think.”


Just Posted

Cathy McLeod ready to run in Election 2019

“I have the passion, energy and support from my family to continue working hard for our region.”

Back in Time

A historical perspective

Editor, The Times:

More childcare spaces and homes for young families

Editor, The Times:

By working together we can achieve our goals

Editor, The Times:

It’s time to regain the momentum

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Canadians widely unaware of accomplishments of famous women, poll suggests

A new poll suggests Canadians have a lot to learn about the accomplishments of some of the country’s most famous women.

Temporary access allowed for residents of landslide-threatened B.C. community

The district says areas of access to the community of about 54 homes could be expanded, depending on advice from a geotechnical engineer.

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

Most Read