Just a man, a fan and his paraglider – this is how Cody Bandsma likes to fly.
During the windy Wednesday afternoon of June 9, the Salmon Arm man was at Blackburn Park getting to know his new paraglider through an exercise referred to as “kiting.” Holding onto the risers – straps that connect to the lines going to the paraglider “wing,” Bandsma waited until the wind was just right. He then started to run. Quickly, the wind caught hold of the wing and the wing launched into the air.
Kiting is a way of learning how the wing moves and how to adjust your body accordingly, to make the wing move how you want it – all of which is important when you’re flying more than 1,000 feet in the air.
For powered paragliding, in addition to the wing, a large fan is harnessed to Bandsma’s back. While the field at Blackburn Park might be good for kiting, for powered paragliding Bandsma chooses to launch himself from flat open areas in Blind Bay, including the beach.
Bandsma has shared on Youtube several videos of his scenic flights in the Shuswap, including flights over Eagle Bay, Blind Bay and Salmon Arm. One of the videos was taken at 6,000 feet around a snowy Mount Ida.
A commercial diver by trade, Bandsma’s flair for adventure has led him to try skydiving as well, both tandem and solo. When in the air, however, his preference is powered paragliding on his own.
“It’s kind of like diving to me… if you know your stuff, you never have to worry about anything, you’re in total bliss,” said Bandsma.
Bandsma said he started powered paragliding about three-and-a-half years ago while living near 100 Mile House. After the 2017 wildfire decimated his parents’ property, Cody, his father Stan and mother Darlene wound up relocating to the Shuswap where Cody has discovered new vistas with his paraglider.
For those who are trained and licensed in the sport, Bandsma said powered paragliding is very safe, though he stressed you do have to follow the rules and restrictions, and watch for birds.
“So when you’re launching, the main rule is three hours after sunrise and three hours before sunset; you don’t want to launch after those time frames,” said Bandsma.
Visit Bandsma’s Youtube channel to see more of his flights over the Shuswap.
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