The Alaska Dispatch’s Bush Pilot blog has recently posted this cool video of some paragliders who discovered just how big Alaska really is and why its flying country. For the video, Frank Sihler along with two flying buddies, Scott Amy and Chris Reynolds, took powered paragliders up the Matanuska Glacier – a 27-mile-long glacier that is the largest in the USA. Amy and Reynolds flew in a Miniplane that consisted of a small backpack-mounted engine and a paraglider wing while Sihler used a paraglider wing attached to a TrikeBuggy that was fitted with a small 25 horsepower engine.
However, the flight was not without incident as Sihler had to land on the glacier after flying too low and running out of gas (he ended up having to hike out of the area – leaving the contraption behind to be hauled out in pieces at a later date). Hence, he noted that:
"I hope the lesson here is to fly high enough that you can glide back to a landing spot where there is fuel," Amy said. "I was real concerned about this going up the glacier because we had the headwind and I was getting low on fuel, too. But what took 15 minutes flying up the glacier only took five minutes to fly the same distance downwind."
Sihler says he never felt that the situation was critical or unsafe. At any time of the flight he had a landing spot in reach for an emergency landing.
"If you want to fly Alaska’s back country, you can’t always be high enough to get to the road system. Walking out will many times be your only option," said Sihler.
Nevertheless, the trio did put together some great aerial footage of the glacier for their video.