Soar like an eagle

Soaring from the ‘Peak of Vancouver’ isn’t anything new for Vancouverite Bill Nikolai, but experiencing the view certainly never gets old.

The 63-year-old has spent 13 seasons with the Grouse Mountain Flying Team — the managing body for paragliding and hang gliding at Grouse Mountain Resort.

The group’s colourful parachutes can be seen gliding down from the peak of the mountain and landing at Cleveland Park from May to September. Their take offs and flights have become quite a tourist attraction over the years.

“We launch from 4,000 feet, which is the peak of Grouse,” Nikolai says.

“There are occasions where we will thermal up — work the warm air bubbles — and get up to 6,500 feet. You don’t want to go any higher than that because you could get run down by a plane.

“Our flights can be as short as 15 or 20 minutes or they can be several hours long, it just depends on the wind conditions and the thermals.”

Nikolai and fellow pilot Rod Frew filmed the magic for the rest of us land dwellers to enjoy. The three-minute video, may just inspire you to spread your wings.

“There are times where I can see cruise ships crossing underneath the Lions Gate Bridge, I can see the Capilano Suspension Bridge down below me and all sorts of other landmarks.

“We frequently see bald eagles. It’s just amazing.... It’s as close to flying like a bird as you can get.”

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