Paragliding in Yukon's wilderness challenges global pilots

Nicholas Stoltz has been travelling in Canada with his family seeing the country from new heights. He ended up in the Yukon after hearing there was a small paragliding community in the territory.

Adventure lovers flock to the Yukon for its extreme sports and paragliding can now be added to the list

Jerome Suder and Nicholas Stoltz are both paragliding pilots from France. They are in the Yukon flying after hearing about a small paragliding community here. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Look way up in the sky around the Yukon and you might see a paraglider.

They're often seen floating around Dawson City, or off of Mount Sima in Whitehorse on Wednesday afternoons when the chairlift is running.

The sport has been taking off around the territory according to a local flying enthusiast.

"When I first started paragliding there were only a few pilots here that were flying," said Trevor Mead-Robins, who owns a company out of Whitehorse called Fly Yukon Paragliding Inc..

Now, there are about 20 with others dropping in from all over.

Local paragliding enthusiast, Trevor Mead-Robins, said the sport is growing in the territory. He is getting calls everyday from pilots who want to come fly here. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

"I get calls from pilots all over the world coming to visit," said Mead-Robins.

Places like France, Germany, and Alaska said Mead-Robins. 

One of these pilots is Nicholas Stoltz, who's been working for Mead-Robins doing tandem flights while in the Yukon.

He's on a two year working holiday from France with his wife and three-year-old son, who he also takes paragliding.

"In Europe everything is busy," said Stoltz. "Here it's just nature and open space so that's why I wanted to come here."

Stoltz came to the Yukon after hearing there was a small paragliding community in the territory.

He was recently flying in Dawson City and the Tombstones.

Suder said the Yukon is a difficult place to paraglide. Changing weather and making sure there is a safe take off and landing area are part of the difficulties. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Joining him is another traveling paraglider from France, Jerome Suder.

He also ended up in the Yukon looking for places to fly.

"It's beautiful in terms of scenery, it's an awesome country and an amazing landscape setting," said Suder.

"But sometime it's kind of tricky because of access to take off and landing. A lot of trees in this country so it's not always easy to find a place to fly."

Making paragliding more accessible 

Suder and Stoltz both agree Yukon has its challenges for paragliders.

Drastic changes in weather and making sure there are safe take off and landing zones make it difficult.

This is something Mead-Robins has been working on.

Recently, he and a couple volunteers built a landing pad at the bottom of the Mount Sima parking lot.

There are six accessible flying sites around Whitehorse: Mount Mcintyre, Mount Sima, Grey Mountain, Heckle Hill, Schwatka Lake and Mountain View.

Trevor Mead-Robins has been flying in the territory for more than 10 years. He said when he first started there were about three pilots, now there are about 20. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

They have also developed a relationship with the local aviation community and NAV Canada, that controls air traffic, to let them know when they are flying.  

"I think the Yukon is really starting to be put on the map for a really unique paragliding experience," said Mead-Robins.