By Murdoch Hughes
Photos courtesy of Darren Darsey, Jan Olsen, and Chris Amonson
The Can/Am, or Canadian American, is a fly-in for Hang gliders and Paragliders originated by U.S. and Canadian hang glider pilots in the 1970’s. Delving Crabtree and his wife Pam were among the first paragliders to participate in the fly-in in the 1980’s, making it one of the first bi-wingual (there’s got to be a better word) events in the U.S.
Black Mountain is like a big foot with toes crossing the U.S/Canadian border a few miles east of the Sumas border crossing. Nestled in the instep is Silver Lake, where the Whatcom County Silver Lake Campground is located. The park maintains a huge mowed grass field LZ next to the group campground.
The launch is about 3600′ agl, reached by a gated but good logging road off the Mount Baker Highway. It is accessible for two-wheel drive vehicles, but 4-wheel drive is recommended as the last part is quite steep. You launch from the logging road, looking to the west with a spectacular view. Mt. Baker looms large over your left shoulder.
The registration fee is $25, which covers camping for Friday and Saturday nights. You won’t want to miss the potluck dinner on Sat. night and the potluck breakfast on Sunday morning. This year, Guy Jones, a paragliding pilot who lives near Lynden, is bringing his huge locomotive engine barbecue to the fly-in. The only thing missing from this barbecue monster machine is a hot tub caboose, which he is probably working on for next year.
Black Mountain is a spectacular flying site recently reopened for paragliding and hang gliding thanks to the two years and many hours of effort on your behalf by Bellingham pilot, Phil Humphries, with the aid of many other pilots, and the indispensable assistance of Jayne DePanfilis, the Executive Director of USHPA, and Lynn Bentley, President of the Northwest Paragliding Club, in obtaining the liability insurance required by Sierra Pacific Industries, the new owners of Black Mountain. This site and many others we enjoy, absolutely would not be open to our sport without the combined efforts and resources of our fine organizations and pilots willing to donate time, energy, funds, and enthusiasm. Until you join these efforts you can have no idea of how indispensable and demanding this work is.
Come out this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to the Black Mountain, Can/Am bi-wingual fly-in and help us celebrate the re-opening in style of this fabulous, world class flying site. The weather will be great and the pilot friends and soaring as good as it gets.
To get to Silver Lake Park from I-5, take the Mount Baker Highway (Exit 255) and drive east 28 miles to Maple Falls. Turn left on Silver Lake Road and follow the signs approximately 3 miles to the park. The group campground and LZ is the road on the right just before the main entrance to the park.