Parks Canada Update

Jasper Park Superintendent Greg Fenton has recently committed to finalizing the guidelines for hang gliding and paragliding in Jasper National Park on a one-year trial project beginning in late spring 2015.

Flying in National Parks is still off limits until HPAC gets the go ahead and publicizes the guidelines in a few months time, but we are closer.

As a recap of where we have been on this issue: Beginning in 2007, the BCHPA and HPAC initiated a formal request to Parks Canada for their consideration of removing the prohibition against non-motorized hang gliders and paragliders in National Parks. A National Assessment convened by Parks Canada was held in 2008 in Vancouver and by early 2012, the federal legislation was changed to remove the prohibition, a huge achievement for our sport.

However, a Local Assessment would need to be done by each individual park to determine that the sport would be allowed in that park, at the discretion of the local Park Superintendent.

A small committee of HPAC has been working with Banff, Jasper and the Mountain National Parks continuously for the last three years to complete a Local Assessment. Since early in 2013, with the finalization of the user guidelines having been approved by the Parks, it was imminent that we would be allowed to start flying in Jasper Park in the 2013 season, with some conditions and as a one-year pilot project. However, more consultation was conducted with other park stakeholders and the delay caused the 2013 season to be lost. Our full expectation was for early 2014 but that also again was delayed, due to other priorities by Park Administration.

Considering HPAC’s complete and repeated submission of any and all documents required, and a very productive relationship with Staff in the various Mountain parks, it was with some frustration that your committee approached the Superintendent of Jasper Park, Mr. Greg Fenton, to obtain a commitment as to when the trial project could begin so that we could inform out members. We now have a commitment that the guidelines for flying in Jasper Park would be formally approved this winter by the Park and that we can expect to be able to advise members as to these guidelines by no later than spring 2015.

It has been a long haul with this project, but your committee is confident that Jasper Park will be available to our beautiful sport in early 2015. Conditions will be publicized well in advance, as this is a trial. And this will serve as a precedent for several other National Parks in Canada that have been identified as ideal for our sport.

And until then, thank you for observing the no-fly rules in National Parks.

Will Gadd
Bruce Busby
Alan Polster
Margit Nance

Message from the President

By Dom Juretic

Hello fellow pilots and friends of free flight,

A lot is going on at HPAC and this is one of the reasons our AGM and this Newsletter are a little off our regular schedule.

Following major changes to the Canada Not-For-Profit Act, HPAC has to apply to Industry Canada for a Certificate of Continuance which has to be presented by your board of directors and authorized by a special resolution which you have approved during our online AGM. This was not an optional procedure which means simply that HPAC had to apply and conform to these new regulations to continue to exist as a Not-For-Profit Association.

Following many changes that have been already adopted to our instructional system, we are now getting to the last items that are targeted by this major overhaul. We have been reviewing our instructor rating requirements and finally our tandem instructor requirements. The review of these requirements was already programmed because this planned overhaul had begun in late 2011 and it was meant to be all inclusive. The review was underway when the tragic death of Lenami Godinez occurred in British Columbia in April of 2012.

HPAC is now involved in litigation in British Columbia surrounding that tragic accident and as such further comment cannot be made while this is before the courts.

Following the accident, we asked Martin Henry, past HPAC president and long-time pilot, to initiate an official investigation for HPAC. The report that followed was also used in the criminal court case which found the tandem instructor guilty of criminal negligence causing death. The report is self- evident and clearly we support its recommendations. Those recommendations are being currently considered by our Council of Senior Instructors (CSI) who will look at the most practical ways to implement them. There will also be consultation with current tandem pilots for their input and oversight by HPAC’s Safety Committee, Suzanne Francoeur and George Martin.

All of this is to encourage you as members to always put safety first.

Sometimes when you do something long enough it gets to be automatic, normal. We pilots feel entitled to this big circling sky above us. Let’s not forget that when we are there, it is because we learned the language of the wind. We nevertheless remain foreigners in that realm, only temporary guests at best. Let’s keep this in mind as we accept anything that might help us enjoy another day doing what we yearn so hard for.

Have a great and safe remainder of this flying season!

Domagoj Juretic
HPAC President
Regional Director for Québec

Special Safety Meeting Held In Vancouver December 7 & 8, 2013

A new HPAC Accident/Incident reporting system and a new HPAC Pilot Training Checklist and Logbook are two of several important initiatives being undertaken by HPAC’s Safety Co-Chairs, Suzanne Francoeur and George Martin through the early part of 2014.

The safety of our pilots and our sport in Canada is one of the highest priorities of HPAC. 2014 will see a renewed and upgraded focus on safety for new student pilots, recreational as well as competition pilots, and for instructors and tandem pilots.

An updated easy-to-use online Accident/Incident Reporting form is being developed. It will connect directly with the Safety Chair(s), will track details for gathering HPAC statistics, and will also develop a communication loop to a new Safety Forum on the HPAC website, where a brief description of the accident/incident will be posted for members (but maintaining the anonymity of the pilot). The objective is for members to be able to learn from situations that others found themselves in, which led to accidents or incidents and how those might have been avoided.

A new “HPAC Pilot Training Checklist and Logbook” is also being developed: its purpose is to provide for all new students a progression of the skills and a checklist for mastering the skills required for any given rating. The checklist is based on the new ratings requirements developed in 2012/13 by the Council of Senior Instructors.

Several other initiatives and new reporting procedures will be announced in a Special Safety Bulletin coming to all members in late spring 2014.

New HPAC Instructional body Council of Senior Instructors (CSI)

The first ever in-person meeting of all HPAC Senior Instructors from across Canada took place in November of 2012 and resulted in the formation of the Senior Instructors Council, replacing the old Instructional Advisory Committee.

CSI’s first mandate was a comprehensive overhaul of all ratings, Beginner to Advanced, hang gliding and paragliding, and all related examinations, which are now being used by instructors across Canada. Changes were also made to all the related forms on the website to reflect the new rating structure and the special skill sign-offs that were added to each rating.

The CSI is continuing its work 2013-2014 by reviewing the requirements for Instructor and Tandem Endorsement and for Senior Instructor, with a recommendation expected to go to the Board of Directors later in spring of 2014.

As well, Senior Instructor Colleen Varcoe is engaged in a process that will lead to a Code of Ethics for Instructors, after consultation with Senior Instructors, Instructors and the Board of Directors.

Updating and monitoring of the ratings structure is an ongoing task and CSI will be seeking input from all instructors on a continuing basis. A special Bulletin on Instruction will go to all current instructors later this spring.

HPAC Organizational Review

HPAC’s Board of Directors and the Executive Director, Margit Nance, are engaged in a two-year top-to-bottom review of HPAC’s operations (2013-2015). It includes a complete review of PRD’s, Instructional standards, Safety protocols, Competition protocols, enhanced online Member services and communications, website updates and the development of a mobile website. More information about all of these as they become ready for members to utilize. All input from our members in any of these areas is encouraged. Please contact the Office with any and all ideas. It is your Association.

Message from the President

By Dom Juretic

Hi fellow members, pilots and friends of free flight,

I welcome you to this first instalment of our new e-newsletter. This is our new chosen format to communicate all official HPAC business to our members. HPAC volunteers will be called upon to contribute to this newsletter to make sure that we share all matters of interest with you our members. This concept might evolve in the future to include contributions on topics relating to our sport which might come from you. But for now we will keep it light by focusing on HPAC official business.

Since the last issue of our magazine Air was published in its paper form, the world changed. Many newspapers and paper magazines disappeared and the way people communicate evolved. Taking this into account, there is no way of going back. This is why we will from now on almost exclusively use the internet to keep contact with our members. We will do so through our website and its forum, this newsletter and the HPAC Facebook group/page. (This group is up to 460 members as of today).

Many things happened in our sport in the last little while. And quite a few of them were really sad. Our 2012 season was one of our most dismal ones safety wise. Some dramatic accidents brought unwanted media attention and bad press like at no other time in our sport’s short history. While under this spotlight, we realized how superficial some of our safety processes were and how shallow some ratings requirements seemed to be. This prompted our sense of due diligence into action. There was no alternative but to take all means necessary to beef up our ratings requirements and safety processes. To achieve this we brought together all senior instructors and sequestered them in a Vancouver meeting room for a whole weekend in November of 2012. And it worked! It got the ball rolling and we now have the first total overhaul of our instruction system since it came into being many years ago. Yes there have been other attempts, but all other were partial or fell short. And this overhaul also included all exams which were long due for a review.

You can’t fail to note that these new requirements were upgraded, meaning they seem tougher. And in many ways they are. But what is really noteworthy is that we moved away from the more quantitative to a more qualitative approach. What is key in our new system is the list of required skills that go with each rating. This list is really spelled out now and will constitute a new baseline of minimum standards which will have to be imposed all across the land. This more comprehensive approach is also reflected in the higher requirements that include the instructor ratings. And this should also put us more in line with other major nations in our sport.

All this work on the ratings and exams is now being done on our safety processes where following the recommendations of our special investigator Martin Henry, we (our safety chairs Suzanne Francoeur and George Martin) are adopting a risk management approach to make sure that we are up to date with the best practices safety wise.

In search of those best practices, your Executive Director Margit Nance and I attended the semi-annual USHPA Board of Directors meeting recently. The open door policy of our American neighbors allowed us to witness the transition that they had to go through recently to implement this new risk management and best practices approach and thereby satisfy new requirements of their insurer.

Even if these weren’t imposed by this series of tragedies that plagued our sport last year, we would have had to come to the conclusion that it was time to bring our game up a notch or two anyway. Your association just can’t afford to look amateurish in these times of instant media scrutiny, if we are to continue to defend this still seemingly frivolous sport in a professional way. With the steps mentioned here I do believe that we will be well armed to do just that and more importantly, that these steps should favor better skills for pilots and instructors and better overall safety for all.

I have just been reelected for another two year term as Quebec director. I cherish the confidence that you have invested in me and will try my best to rise to it, thank you!

Be safe and fly sky high!

Domagoj Juretic
HPAC President