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To beat pandemic blues, Yellowknifers use a different kind of zoom

A submitted photo of Jake Olson in his powered paraglider in the summer
A submitted photo of Jake Olson in his powered paraglider in the summer.

“It’s basically a lawn chair with a lawnmower strapped to your back,” says Jake Olson, one of Yellowknife’s two paramotorists.

Those guys in the air with parachutes? That’s them. Yellowknife residents asked Cabin Radio to investigate after watching Olson and fellow powered paraglider John Hall zooming in the air instead of on teleconferences.

Hall was spotted soaring over Old Town on his contraption earlier this week.

At this point, we should warn you not to try this at home – paramotoring requires an ultralight pilot permit and the technology is a little more advanced than a lawn chair and lawnmower.



Olson, who owns YK Gold and Silver, was on a work trip to Yukon a few years ago when he first took a paragliding course.

You turn your engine off when you’re at altitude and it feels like you’re on top of the world.JOHN HALL

“It’s one of those things you do and for whatever reason it just sticks with you,” he said this week.

“It was just the most amazing sensation you can ever imagine, like you’re literally a bird up above the trees.



“The amount of freedom and clarity that you feel when you’re flying is super incredible, so that was how I got hooked on it.”

Olson came back to Yellowknife but had to figure out a way to take off without launching from a mountain. His research led him to paramotoring, where an engine helps the glider become airborne.

‘I got in my car and hunted him down’

Olson described the paramotor’s power source as a “dirt bike motor on steroids.” It allows him to remain airborne for a few hours at a time if conditions are right.

“You’re basically an airplane,” he said, except you skim along at around 60 km/h. Pilots must call in to the airport to get permission to fly, stay in contact with the airport, and steer clear of runways and flight paths.

Paramotors operated by John Hall and Jake Olson. Photo: Jake Olson

Hall, Yellowknife’s other paramotorist, caught the eye with his orange parachute on Tuesday afternoon.

“I think what I like about it is it’s just me in the sky,” he said.

“There’s no aircraft around me, there’s nothing around me. You’re just sitting in your harness, and then you turn your engine off when you’re at altitude, and you’re just floating there.



“It feels like you’re on top of the world.”

Paramotoring over Yellowknife

Paramotoring over Yellowknife in a series of shots captured by Jake Olson’s GoPro camera.

The two men met after Olson saw Hall in the air one day and thought, “I’m not flying, so who else is flying?”

“I got in my car and hunted him down,” Olson recalled. “Flying with friends is always more fun because someone else is having the same experience.”

He’s hoping more people in the city will get into it although, like Hall, he acknowledged the cost associated with getting a pilot’s licence and equipment can be prohibitive.