Paragliding in Yukon's wilderness challenges global pilots
Adventure lovers flock to the Yukon for its extreme sports and paragliding can now be added to the list
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.
"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.
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.
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.