Winter is setting in, and the paragliding thermal flying season has come to an end.
This means no more big climbs up to cloud base and cruising the Yukon skies with eagles at 10,000 feet.
This also means that there will be no more cross-country flying again until spring.
But, who is complaining?
This has been the best paragliding year Yukon has seen. While there were no particularly long cross-country flights this year (the longest was only 40 kilometres), one could fly almost every day from April until August.
In fact, there was so much good weather for flying this year that nobody had the energy or time to fit it all in.
Pilots were regularly having two- to four-hour flights. For myself, I flew three times as many hours this year as last Ã that wet year that everybody wants to forget about.
Heck, I was even beginning to contemplate leaving Yukon after the terrible weather we had last year.
So, while we did not have any really long distance flights, there were many shorter cross-country flights, which is what brought me to write this letter.
Half the fun of flying cross-country with a paraglider is not knowing where you are going to land.
Generally, the idea is to fly as far as you can. Then, once you land, you hitchhike your way back to where you started, usually to pick up your vehicle and meet up with friends.
I felt very lucky this year: I never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a ride. So, thank you to all of you who took the time to pull over and offer rides to pilots.
A special thank you goes out to the First Nation people who gave me more than half of my rides this year.
Another thank you goes to those of you who will see us on the side of the highway with our big backpacks next season and pull over to give us a ride back to where we started.
And, if you don’t feel comfortable stopping, please slow down if you see one of us forced to land close to the highway; the wind turbulence from speeding vehicles can cause the paraglider to collapse, which can result in serious injury.
Until the next season starts, you will likely see us along the Yukon River or at Schwatka Lake flying with the ravens.
Shawn Kitchen, president, Association of Yukon Paragliders and Hang-gliders