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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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

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    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

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    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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