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New trail in Pemberton to honour local glider

Rudy Rozsypalek's family to decide on trail name, Bike Co. taking suggestions



Long-time Pemberton pilot and glider Rudy Rozsypalek will not be forgotten in the town he called home.

Just two years since the devastating mid-air crash above Nairn Falls Provincial Park, which claimed four lives including Rozsypalek's, the community has rallied to build a memorial trail in his name.

The trail is up high in the Mackenzie Basin trail network and runs off the Middle Earth climbing trail, connecting to Overnight Sensation.

"The location of the trail is quite high up on the mountain over areas where he used to soar," said Ian Kruger, who sits on the board of the Pemberton Valley Trails Association (PVTA) and who was instrumental in getting the trail in the ground. "I think it's an appropriate spot."

The area has long been slated for an intermediate descent, an easier option in the Mackenzie area, peppered with double black diamond trails.

"For expert riders, (the area) is good but it didn't really offer much else," explained John Inglis at the Pemberton Bike Co. This trail will address that shortcoming.

The trail wraps around the front side of the mountain with spectacular views of the valley, the town and Mount Currie.

"I think if you're going to make a community trail in honour of somebody, I think it's best for it to be approachable for everyone," said Kruger.

Kruger said he did not personally know the local pilot and glider. But everyone knew of him. He was "a community icon."

"It's a good way to rally the community around his memory," he said.

It cost roughly $11,000 to build the trail, along with hundreds of volunteer hours, as well as the expertise of trail builders Seb Kemp and Peter O'Loughlin.

"They get a lot of credit for flexibility and buying into the vision," Kruger added. "I'm just happy that it's there and it turned out better than we had imagined."

While it has yet to be officially christened, the Pemberton Bike Co. is having a "Naming the Trail Competition" through its Facebook page. Ultimately Rozsypalek's family will decide the name.

Some of the suggestions put forward so far are: Like Rudy Would, Rudy Kazudi, Czech Express, Endless Flight, Rudy's Sweet Delight and Rudy in the Sky with Gliders.

One person predicted it would be called Rudy's Trail, no matter what it is ultimately named.

Rozsypalek was an experienced pilot who operated the Pemberton Soaring Centre for 20 years.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada ruled in September 2014 that the mid-air collision between the glider and the Cessna "was caused by the failure of the see-and-avoid principle as the sole means of collision avoidance."

The weather was clear and the winds were calm on the day of the collision, the report said, but "the converging tracks of the two aircraft caused blind spots for the pilots.

"This factor, couple with human vision limitations, offered reduced opportunities for the pilots to avoid the collision."