The Upper Columbia Valley has many second homeowners, but quite likely none of them have arrived in the valley by flying a homebuilt four-seat plane all the way from P.E.I., until Dico Reijers and his dad John did just that last week.
The father and son duo left their homes in Charlottetown, ducked across the U.S. border (where plane fuel is significantly cheaper), and touched down to refuel in New York and Wisconsin before overnighting in Miles City, Montana. The next day, they continued to Lethbridge, Cranbrook and finally Invermere — with a total in-air time of 11 hours during the two-day trip.
“It was really neat to do it once; I’m not sure I’d do it again,” said the younger Mr. Reijers. The pair were waiting out the thunderstorm forecast for last weekend in Invermere, with the plan of flying back to P.E.I as soon as the clouds cleared.
The return trip would likely be with significant tailwinds and would probably only take nine hours, said Mr. Reijers, adding he’s been flying for 10 years.
Mr. Reijers and his wife own a studio unit at Panorama Mountain Village, but recently had twins and wanted to purchase somewhere larger for them to stay when in the valley, particularly since this winter they are planning on coming for three months.
The couple bought a condo on the advice of friends and Mr. Reijers needed to come check it out and move their belongings, so he used the opportunity to fly out with his father.
“We hadn’t flown much this summer because we were busy with the twins, so I took it as an excuse to bring out the baby stuff” he said, adding his dad would have been bored at home, so he came along for the ride.
“Flying is great because you have the freedom to go wherever you want to go,” said Mr. Reijers, adding that he wanted to fly his own plane from an early age.
“But in some ways, it’s not as exciting as many would think — takeoff and landing are the only parts you really have to work. It’s 95 per cent boredom and five per cent work,” he said.
This trip was the first time Mr. Reijers flew over large mountains, although he did a previous trip out to the Grand Canyon.
The plane is a Lancair IVP, built by somebody else and then purchased by Mr. Reijers.
“It was comfortable enough, but it’s easier to let somebody else fly,” he said. The time it takes to fly commercially to P.E.I (which involves driving from Invermere to Calgary, arriving early at the airport for check in, stopping over in Toronto and possibly changing planes before flying to Charlottetown) is almost equivalent to the amount of time it takes to fly a small plane there, he said.
Mr. Reijers’s work in information technology and computers allows him to do his job just about anywhere there is an online connection, giving him the flexibility to work at home in P.E.I. or at the couple’s new condo at Panorama Mountain Village.