When I Grow Up I Want to Fly

glider, pemberton soaring adventures, pemberton, British Columbia, canada

Waiting on the ground in the cockpit of the glider

The glider takes a mere couple of seconds to hop off the runway in Pemberton, British Columbia.  At first, it feels like the sports car of airplanes.  My feet lay almost flat with my waist as I am squeezed into the cockpit as aerodynamically as possible.  But it isn’t until the pilot shuts off the engines while hanging a couple thousand feet off the ground that I really do feel the full effect of the glider; the full effect of being fused to nature.

glider, pemberton soaring adventures, pemberton, British Columbia, canada

The Pemberton Valley from above

We pull off our headsets and float gently and silently along a mountainside.  The trees look like a thick shag carpet below, and snow still caps the mountains that seem so close you want to see if you can reach out your hand and touch them.  Unlike other planes, there is no engine churning and disrupting the peace up here, we are at one with the sky.  Before this moment I always wondered what it felt like to be a bird, now I wonder no longer.  We are at the bay of the winds, not an element within the environment, but part of it.

glider, pemberton soaring adventures, pemberton, British Columbia, canada

Bids have the best views!

I look down at the world below, which looks so peaceful. From up here the scattered town of Pemberton looks so simple, it is a smattering of lines in the landscape, and communities etched among the trees.  Looking down, I think about humankind, and how interesting it is how we organize ourselves within this natural world.  I wonder if the birds ever look down on us and wonder what it’s like to walk, drive, or float down the river.  They probably don’t; they have it best up here.  Someone famous once said something along the lines of “I used to look at birds and say how wonderful it would be to go wherever I wanted.  And then I realized I could.”

glider, pemberton soaring adventures, pemberton, British Columbia, canada, golf course

One of the golf courses in Pemberton.

For me, it’s hard not to find inspiration up here among the thermal winds of the Pemberton Valley.  And no matter how much at feel apart of nature in this moment, I can’t help but be amazed at the genius man/womankind has created.  I can’t help but be excited for what great creations the world will still see.  Things we have yet to imagine possible.

“I’m up with the birds today,” I think to myself. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll be among the stars.”

glider, pemberton soaring adventures, pemberton, British Columbia, canada

A golfer and cart below on the course

We cut through a low cloud. The glider sinks and then is forced up again as I am reminded that we are at whims of nature.  Regardless of how ingenious man becomes, we will always be at her whims.

When I was young I would look up at hawks and want to be one, but today, I want to be in a glider.  And I am.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. Great story…Growing up there used to be a glider company nearby that would take folks up…ironically they flew over the golf course I played as a kid. I always wanted to try one, but the idea of just floating sort of scares me haha.

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    • Thanks D.J. – You got to get over that fear man, soaring in the glider is amazing!

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  2. I really love this post Brendan, the way you wrote it. Also, the glider experience is so remote to try for me as I am in a country that do not have one, i hope one day, I can also be in this vantage point and see the world below like the birds flying up high and so carefree.

    The photos, as usual is impressive.

    Cheers Brendan, this post really has inspired me.

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    • Thanks so much Doc – Hope you have a chance to experience this sometime. It was truly incredible.

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  3. Great read! I really love how you painted such a vivid picture of your experiences up in the sky. I feel inspired!


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    • Thanks Shaun, I’m glad you liked the article!

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  4. I would love to do this someday. I always say if I had one superhero power it would be to be able to fly. Would love to know that sensation!

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    • If I had a superpower I’d be able to read thoughts… but I’d be able to turn it off and on. There are always gliders to fly with haha.

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