Traveller glides into Meadow Lake

Odile Rablat stands with her ultralight tricycle at the Meadow Lake airport where her planned stop was extended due to propeller damage. Rablat, from France, is returning to Cambridge, Ont., from Inuvik, N.W.T.

By Mac Christie

She moves at about 100 km / h, sometimes at 11,000 feet, in the open air.

Instead of a plane, Odile Rablat, 59, flies in an ultralight tricycle, which resembles a hang-glider with an engine.

She landed in Meadow Lake last Thursday, a planned stop on her trip from Inuvik, N.W.T., to Cambridge,Ont.

“It was a very good trip, a beautiful trip,” said Rablat, who left Cambridge on June 26 and will return by mid-September. “I needed 70 hours to get to Inuvik.”

Rablat can travel for about five hours per day, and her trip on Thursday began in Westlock, Alta.

While her stop was planned, it was longer than anticipated. In a regular pre-flight inspection, she discovered a chip in her propeller, and had to fix it.

So she camped out at a local hangar while repairs were made.

Hailing from France, this is Rablat’s third trip across Canada. Previously, she travelled from Montreal, Que., to Golden, B.C., and from Montreal to the Maritimes.

She learned to fly in France, trying skydiving, paragliding and paramotoring – hang-gliding with a motor, and flying an ultralight plane, before deciding on the tricycle.

“I like to be out in the air and feel the wind,” she said.

Her craft is equipped with a GPS and she wears an electrically heated suit to keep warm.

Rablat, who works at a home for children from troubled families in France, plans to retire in two to three years. She expects to take another, albeit shorter, trip across Canada at that point.

“In Canada everything is beautiful,” she said. “I like the bush, I like the Prairies, the mountains, the coast – all of it is good.”

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