It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... a man from Langdon in a flying machine?
In perhaps one of the most unique hobbies out there, Langdon local Joe Ummels soars through the skies in his flying machine! While many people have some sort of flying experience — usually in a commercial flight — Ummels flies on his own in his machine to take in the stellar views from his open air seat.
"The feeling of leaving the ground is just exhilarating. I can't wipe the smile off my face, it's impossible to be grumpy when you're flying because everything is just... you're seeing so many things that you don't normally get to see from such a cool perspective. Even the boring prairies, you know, you drive through prairies, they're boring, you fly over them, they're amazing," he said.
Ummels explained flying is surprisingly simple. The first time he took off and landed he said there were plenty of nerves, but now that he's done it so many times he said it's quite routine.
"I can just sit back and if I want to turn a little bit, I can just shift my weight to one side or to the other and I can make a nice gentle turn. I can just totally relax and take in the scenery, when you're up in the air, you don't have to be actively grabbing controls and doing things. You can just sit there and float, it's so peaceful and quite nice."
He added flying can be as simple or complex as you like, as you could be very involved and do complex maneuvers and tricks, but he enjoys taking in the scenery and the peaceful experience rather than doing stunts.
Ummels has a group of flying friends that go on trips together across the province, and they recently went to Lethbridge to fly over the coulees. If you're also interested in getting the literal bird's eye view, Ummels strongly recommends you get the proper training. Besides it being a requirement to legally fly, the training will ensure you can take off and land safely, as flying that high up without the proper knowledge could literally get you killed or seriously injured.
"It's a great group of guys that are very willing to share their knowledge and experience and tips. It's a really cool community," he said, regarding the training schools he's aware of. Ummels himself went to Drayton Valley for his training.
If you want to try and spot Ummels in the sky, he said he often goes in the mornings or evenings, as that's when the air is the calmest and the easiest flying conditions. If you do see him, be sure to give him a wave!