Sunny skies and pleasant winds graced the pilots who partook in the 35th Annual Lakeside Event in Invermere on August 6.
The paragliding and hang gliding event is the longest-running light flight meet in Canada, and had beach-goers at James Chabot park scanning the skies for the next incoming pilot.
Those out in boats on Lake Windermere pulled up to watch the event as well.
Next to the Lakeside Event’s silent auction — which featured several items donated by local businesses and artisans — were representatives from BC Parks, who gave away cake and other goodies in honour of the provincial park service’s 100th birthday.
This year 34 paragliders and 19 hang gliders were brought to the top of Mount Swansea and launched across the valley to Lake Windermere, aiming to land closest to a designated spot to win.
Hang gliders had one launch to try to make the mark, while paragliders were allotted two tries. However, trucks continually running throughout the day would take pilots back up even if they were no longer competing, and those interested were allowed to go up to the launch point and try as well.
Pilots from all across Canada, as well as Argentina and Hawaii, came out to participate in the event.
“It’s a really fun event, because it’s different than usual flying events,” said Frank Kernick, one of this year’s Lakeside Event main organizers, and also announcer that day. “It’s not a cross-country thing, there are no points or specific goals, it’s just whoever can land closest to the target.”
For those who came up short (and in the lake), rescue boats dotted the waters to ensure safety.
Longtime paragliding pilot and event volunteer Jeff Grieve said that the community reaction and participation for the event had been fantastic, and remarked on the excellent conditions for flying that day as well.
“It’s cool up there but warm down here, and that’s what you want to create updrafts,” said Grieve. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re reaching heights of up to 3,000 metres.”