A group of young people with fantasies about learning to fly will be getting a boost up into the air from the Association of Yukon Paragliding and Hang Gliding (AYPH).
Free paragliding lessons will be offered to a group of 12 participants from Dawson City, ages 15 to 29, beginning in early June.
AYPH president Denise Faulhaber said that because safe paragliding is so weather-dependent it was important to set aside plenty of time for the new fliers. The free lessons will run June 10-19, July 1-10 and over a few days in August. Faulhaber said if weather allows, the two local instructors and some guest instructors from the south plan to strap in with the students for some tandem flights as soon as possible — this is important for getting students excited and seeing if paragliding is something they would enjoy.
On days when the weather doesn’t permit flights, Faulhaber said students will still be busy working on an online theory course and getting used to the sensation of soaring over Dawson by viewing footage of a flight through a virtual-reality headset.
Faulhaber said there is also plenty of ground-handling work to be done, getting students used to the harness and the paragliding wing attached to it, before they embark on their first solo flight. She said flights can start from small hills before students work there way up. Good locations have been picked along the Top of the World and Dempster highways. Eventually, when students are proficient, they will be able to fly from the dome in Dawson.
There has already been a good amount of interest in the program, but Faulhaber said anyone who is interested should still apply as there are likely to be some students who decide it isn’t for them after the first flight or who have to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. A sign-up form is available at www.ayph.ca.
Faulhaber said the club is thankful for the community development fund money they received, allowing them to offer the class at no cost and reach a group of people who might not otherwise get to paraglide. She added that it has been a great collaboration with the City of Dawson and the Tr’ondëk Hwëchin First Nation.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org