Interlauken: Soaring with Eagles

Written by Harold McNeill on October 2nd, 2011. Posted in Travelogue

Harold and Lynn

The Eagles Hatch a Plan

On impulse, something that is very much a part of our lives these days, Lynn and I booked a flight with a paragliding group. Over the past few days in Interlaken, Switzerland, we watched as dozens of paragliders soar like Eagles through the mountains, then touch down in the middle of the city.

It was something we did not want to miss as neither of us had ever hung in a parachute. Perhaps this statement speaks more for Harold than Lynn, as Lynn was quite happy to keep her feet on good old terra firma. Well, being the adventuresome life partner she is, the answer was ‘sure’, although to be truthful, it was given in less than convincing manner. We booked a flight for noon the next day, but as luck (very good luck from Lynn’s point of view) would have it, the next morning found the mountains shrouded in heavy cloud.

Lynn noted the dismal conditions but the transparently of her message conveyed a different though: “Well, we could just laze around and catch up on our reading. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?”  Sorry Lynn, not to be, as by noon the clouds were clearing and our adventure was re-booked for 3:00 pm.

Glider GroupAfter being assigned our gear, we joined ten other hearty soles, climbed in the bus and snaked our way up the mountain road. As the city faded, the lakes and distant mountains, including Jungfraujoch (The Top of Europe), came into view. While there are many wonderful mountain scenes throughout Switzerland, Interlauken (spelt both with and without the “u”, so this would be the English form) must be amongst the most scenic, as you will note in other travelogues from this region.

Of the ten flyers, Lynn was the second readying for takeoff. Standing back about three places and looking her bundled up in crash helmet and gear, my heart went out as on her face she had that look of ‘what in hell am I doing here!”

On her turn, and being the trooper she is, she and her guide were off and running – one, two, three and away.  The two looked as a papa eagle with a chick on its first flight. As they ran down the hill and the parasail gained lift, you could hear the squeals of delight coming from Lynn. Or, was that her screaming with terror?

Lynn had picked her pilot well as he was an extremely understanding man in his late twenties whose soothing words and encouragement turned her flight into an experience of a lifetime. Quite honestly, the in-flight Lynn with her pilotpictures revealed Lynn to be much more relaxed than me.  She claimed the camera could work miracles.

High in the air, when strapped in, the passenger is seated in front of and below the pilot, held in place by a snug fitting sling seat that can only be felt and not seen. Looking down between one’s legs, there is nothing but a few thousand feet nothing and then the ground (something hard I suppose).  Each time the pilot completed a leisurely sweeping turn, it felt as if one could simply slip out of the harness and begin that long fall.

While trepidation more than fear, was our companion of the twenty-minute flight, the stunning beauty of the Alps surrounding Interlauken was breathtaking. On two occasions, our pilots glided in so we were side by side so we could wave tentatively towards each other. Although we both have many dozens of hours of flight time in light aircraft and helicopters (big jets don’t count), there is no comparison to hanging in that small sling seat while suspended high above the earth. It was an awesome moment to be treasured (if not repeated!).

Later that day, when I mentioned the possibility of doing a tandem parachute drop from the Top of the World Jungfraujochh, Lynn dug in her heels. If we return, and someday I think we shall push that 11,400-foot peak a little further up our Bucket List.  In the meantime, we shall take a day to travel to the top by cog train.

Lynn and Harold McNeill


Scenic Mountains and Lakes Surround Interlauken

(Above Photo) Interlauken sits below several of the paragliders in our group. At the bottom left is the landing area smack in the middle of the city. There is little room for pilot error.

Scenic Gliding

Scenic Gliding




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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold