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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Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman