Gliders look to Banff park as ban lifted

Gliding sports are closer to getting off the ground in Banff National Park thanks to recent changes to Parks Canada rules.
Parks Canada rules will soon allow paragliders and hang-gliders to legally land or launch from inside national park boundaries. (Urs Flueeler/Associated Press)

Gliding sports are closer to getting off the ground in Banff National Park.

Recent changes to Parks Canada rules will allow paragliders and hang-gliders, who can already glide over the park, to legally land inside national park boundaries.

"For pilots this opens up some of the best terrain in the world," said Will Gadd, a paraglider and hang-glider from Canmore, Alta. "It’s big news."

Gadd says gliding sports were banned in national parks about 25 years ago, along with private airplanes.

"We kind of got caught up in this motorized debate. As paraglide and hang-glider pilots we are self-powered. We don’t have any motors. We definitely don’t want any new infrastructure – we don’t need a special place to land, we don’t need a special place to take off. We are like hikers."

Banff National Park will now begin a local assessment, to determine whether pilots will be able to launch from mountains within the park boundaries.

"What we are telling our pilots, and so on, is to stay out of the parks for now until the local assessments are done," said Gadd. 

One day maybe small businesses might be able operate tandem operations in the park, Gadd said, although he is not a businessman and says he is just looking forward to taking friends.