Motorized trike flights give birds eye view of mountains
If you hear a faint buzzing this winter and look up you may be greeted by a strange sight. It’s neither a bird nor a plane, it’s Jan Nedemlejnsky in his trike. The motorized hang glider is how Nedemlejnsky captures stunning photos of Kamloops and the surrounding areas from above.
The trike can fly up to 130 km per hour and up to 7,000 or 8,000 feet high, but Nedemlejnsky prefers to stick to 5,000 to 6,000 feet or lower where the views are the best.
“It gives you more of a fun factor, when you’re lower you get more perception of speed.”
Since moving to Kamloops in 2012 he has already flown more than 13,500 km in the area, making frequent trips over the Thompson River, to Barriere and to Sun Peaks. But he has logged far more kilometres than that since he started in the sport in 1974.
He lived in the Czech Republic and he taught himself everything he needed to know, but had a large community of hang gliders around for support.
“I had always wanted to fly but was getting airsick (in planes),” he said. “I would never pass the exam on a regular plane; tests with acrobatics were not for me.”
Back then he was flying non-motorized hang gliders, dragging them up mountains, waiting for perfect conditions and taking off. From the start he recorded his flights, first with a wind up video camera with only a few minutes of film and now with multiple GoPros and cameras.
When he made the move to Canada in 1979 he was excited by the thought of soaring from tall mountains and picturesque peaks.
“I thought I would be in the Rockies…I then lived in Fort McMurray which is hopelessly flat.”
Living at an altitude of 260 metres with few mountains around, Nedemlejnsky said he decided to build his own motorized version of the gliders he started with and began flights around the Alberta city.
He said it was beautiful and the clear skies couldn’t be beat, but since moving south to Kamloops he has fallen in love with how photogenic the area is. Nedemlejnsky said he especially loves seeing the sand bars move in the rivers.
“I’ve seen much more than people born here,” he said. “When you live in Kamloops you only see the first layer of the mountains, the higher you go the more you see the terrain and beauty. Kamloops is photogenic. No matter where you look it looks good.”
Nedemlejnsky shares his photos and videos on his Facebook, YouTube and website. Both scenic shots and educational videos are shared as a way to connect with a small community. He belongs to local flying clubs but is the only one with a trike.
Through the years there have been close calls and crashes. He once spent seven weeks in hospital recovering and another time flipped the hang glider on a lake. But it hasn’t stopped him from taking to the skies again.
“It looks cool and I like cool stuff…It’s one of the cheapest flying sports ever…It’s one of the closest things to flying.”
Nedemlejnsky has other passions too, including his motorcycle, but takes the time for a few flights each month. The trike can fly for up to four hours or so but he tends to go out for an hour at a time. A round trip to Sun Peaks or Barriere is around 45 minutes from where he takes off at the Kamloops airport.
He also visits local groups and retirement homes to share his images.
“It’s unbelievable the reaction,” he said. “People love to see different views. Kids and people love to see it at the airport.”
So next time you see Kamloops’ only trike flying over head wave hello; you may end up in one of Nedemlejnsky’s photos.