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In Pictures: Paragliding 'like playing chess with Mother Nature'

A $17,000 splurge has put them both sky-high and turned C.J. Wilkins’ fears and Julie Michaud’s dreams into a passion for the adventure sport of paragliding

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C.J. Wilkins flies his paraglider with Kelowna, B.C. in the background. Mr. Wilkins said he has flown as high as 11,500 feet, near Revelstoke, B.C. His longest flight so far was 65 kilometres, in Brazil last February, and took three and a half hours.

Maude Ash

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“I always wanted to be a bird so, once I realized paragliding could be accessible to me, it was a no-brainer. I had to try it,” says Julie Michaud, adding that, although her first flight made her feel like she was being tossed around in a clothes dryer, she took to the sport immediately.

Mike Vervotte

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Ms. Michaud paragliding in Lumby B.C., as seen from fellow pilot Mike Vervotte. She has flown as high as 9,000 feet. Her longest flight was 17 km.

Mike Vervotte

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Mr. Wilkins flies his paraglider with Kelowna, B.C., in the background. “It is like playing a chess match with Mother Nature in the sky, and you can’t see what she is throwing at you,” he says . “It’s you, nature and some fabric, and it gives you a mental clarity you just cannot achieve doing anything else.”

Maude Ash

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Mr. Wilkins and Ms. Michaud stand at Baldy Launch near Vernon B.C.

Greg Penner

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Ms. Michaud and Mr. Wilkins at work completing the final stages of an electrical box wrap printed with eco-friendly ink in West Kelowna B.C.

Kim Beaudry

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Couple completes the installation of a wrap printed with eco-friendly ink on an electrical box in West Kelowna B.C.

Kim Beaudry

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Posing for a photo at Baldy Launch near Vernon B.C.

Greg Penner

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Mr. Wilkins takes the time to snap a self-portrait while gliding 6,000 feet above the valley near Cherryville, B.C.

C.J. Wilkins

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Mr. Wilkins launches his paraglider in Chelan, Washington while Julie Michaud (background) looks on.

Maude Ash

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“My first flight was terrifying. My heart was beating like crazy and I was asking myself why this was something I would do on purpose,” he says. “On the tenth flight, I managed to go nice and high and, for me, the light and the passion just turned on,” says Mr. Wilkins. Here he launches his paraglider in Chelan, Washington.

Maude Ash

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Fellow pilot Greg Penner gets a close up view of C.J. Wilkins while flying in New Denver, B.C.

Greg Penner

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Mr. Wilkins(right) and Ms. Michaud (left) check the winds before Wilkins launches in Brazil.

Mike Vervotte

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Checking her gear before launching in Brazil, February, 2012.

C.J. Wilkins

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Ms. Michaud soars over the Coldstream Valley near Vernon, B.C.

C.J. Wilkins

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