It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no, it’s the 36th annual Lakeside Event, which will be filling the skies above Lake Windermere with paragliders and hang gliders on Saturday (August 11).
Touted as Canada’s longest running light aviation meet, the fun-filled spectator-friendly fly-in co-founded by the late Daniel Saunders (Dano) takes place the same day as the cross country running event Loop the Lake, which Lakeside Event organizer Max Fanderl says is the perfect complement. Fanderl is a longtime hang glider, paragliding instructor and ultralight flight instructor, and the owner and operator of Flying Max, offering lessons and tandem flights in the East Kootenay as well as other locations worldwide.
“[Our event] also suits this crowd,” he said. “There’s a lot of spectators, families, they hang out on the beach, they see the flying going on.”
On average, the event attracts between 50 and 80 pilots every year, plus friends and spectators who, in addition to keeping their eyes peeled for incoming pilots, are kept busy with family friendly activities at Lakeside Pub near James Chabot Provincial Park in Invermere, the official base for the event.
From 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., paragliders and hang gliders will launch one by one from the top of Mt. Swansea and make their way to targets by the base — an inner tube set up in belly-deep water for hang gliders so their wing is still above the water when they land, and a 12 to 14 foot baby pool set up on the beach for the paragliders to land in. A couple of trucks will be transporting the pilots up Swansea throughout the day, who will have upwards of two attempts to nail their target landing and compete for the cash prizes that will be awarded for first, second and third in both flying categories, as well as biggest splash.
An area next to Lakeside Pub will be fenced off to ensure the landing approach is safe, but the public is welcome to walk in and talk to the pilots to get more information, said Fanderl. Spectators can also choose to watch from the launching pad at the top of Mount Swansea but will have to arrange their own transportation up.
And everyone is invited to join the after party that will be held at the pub, set to start at 9 p.m. with no cover charge and featuring the Canmore band The Electric Squirrels.
“It’s more a fun event,” Fanderl said. “Some people take it seriously, they should to some extent, but it’s more a very easy social thing.”
Also, it’s a chance for the public to see what’s going on in these two sports, he added.
Pilots will be coming from as far away as Montana and Idaho to participate, and over the years, the event has attracted people from Australia and Brazil while on their travels through the area.
Anyone interested in participating can register right up until the day of the event. For more information, visit www.lakesideevent.com or to contact Fanderl, visit his website at www.flyingmax.com.