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From Dream to Victory
September 21st, 2010 - By: Benjamin Jordan - Location: Toronto - Permalink
After three incredible months of work and play all across Europe, the Above + Beyond Canada project has left its inspiring mark on dropped jaws in more than 12 new countries ..most recently in France where our 69 minute documentary, DREAM, was honored with "L'Icare du Critique" (The Critics Award).

Amongst the accolades, we've sold approximately 150 fund raising books, and almost as many DVDs. We are presently sorting out distribution channels for the DVD and expect to have them for sale on-line within two weeks of today.

European Success
August 26th, 2010 - By: Benjamin Jordan - Location: Nelson - Permalink
Having spent the past few weeks freeflying in the Alps of Italy, Switzerland and France, I have had plenty of un flyable days to reflect on how grateful I am for the avalanche love and support that came from my sponsors, event organizers, pilots and their families.

Thank you France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden and of course the Czech Republic. Thank you for welcoming me into your homes and communities. Thank you for watching my works and listening to what I had to say. Thank you for your generous donations and purchases of our fund raising book and film. Thank you for making Above + Beyond Canada's European tour a smashing success.

See you after our next amazing project!

European Children
July 12th, 2010 - By: Benjamin Jordan - Location: Centrum Paralotniowe - Permalink
If I could have imagined Above + Beyond Canada being appreciated on an international scale, I may have been driven to produce it sooner. There aren't words to describe the satisfaction of a room full of people, that you require a translator to speak to, applauding your efforts and documentary film. And still, half way around the world, all the fame and recognition becomes completely insignificant behind the innocent eyes of smiling children.

Nirvana Systems, my equipment sponsor, has proudly organised a five week A+B European tour connecting film screenings at flying competitions and schools across 10 different countries.

This being my first time in Europe, I feel quite privileged to bounce around this beautiful continent as a guest of honour. The main advantage of staying in people's homes I'm finding is the unlimited access to so many amazing varieties of cheese. (Insert Laughter)

Hilarious jokes aside, I sat down to write this for two reasons:

1. To express my utmost gratitude for these new individuals, families and businesses and the tremendous support they've showed in promoting this great project and it's fund raising documentary materials.

2. To let all of our original supporters and charities know that though the A+B trip is complete, the initiative itself is more alive then ever. Please order a copy of the excellent documentary book and hold tight for the official release of our full-length documentary film.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

One year later
May 15th, 2010 - By: Benjamin Jordan - Location: Nelson - Permalink
On May 15th of 2009, I shattered a barrier separating my dreams from my reality as I launched my powered paraglider from a school yard in Canada's west-most surf-town, Tofino, BC. Obsessed with the mission to cross the entire country while motivating youth to follow their own dreams, Keren, Jess and I delivered inspiring presentations during our stops at more than 35 schools and summer camps. The children displayed gratitude by gathering into giant formation which I photographed from the sky before flying onward.

One year later we're excited to breath new life into this dream with the release of our inspiring photo-documentary book, Lessons in Fear and Love. Beautifully laid out with the formations and other breathtaking perspectives on this beautiful land, the book is my personal account of recognizing fear's various masks and staring it down to find overwhelming feelings of satisfaction and love on the other side.

Each sale of this book brings the dreams of children from low-income families one step closer to their reality as 100% of the profit made will be used to send them to summer camps in your province. Please buy your copy of this fantastic book today and help grow our dream by sharing it with the people you love.

did someone say st johns, newfoundland?
September 5th, 2009 - By: Jess Ahlemeier - Location: Quidi Vidi Lake Landing - Permalink
she whispers -

wow. i'm impressed. we made it to st johns -

and then, she smiles.

on day 113 - my bad, day 114 - of our paragliding & supporting bus cross-country partnership, we arrived in st johns, newfoundland from tofino, british columbia - island to island, having stretched the myriad of canadian countryside in-between.

realizing that benjamin and myself have been consistent, direct witnesses to this stunning journey - through intense weather and varying personas - is both settling and empowering.

awash with all the support that has graced us through out the trip, we remain here in our bus home - preparing cheesy pasta with apple juice - low on drinking water, power nearly drained, and eager to rest. another quality day in the lives of the above + beyond canada crew. this day just happening to be the final flight day of an astounding distance-record breaking journey across canada.

now, a moment of thought pause and winding down in the beautiful haven of st johns before our drive back west.

wholeheartedly, thank you everyone for your attention, positive thoughts, and home-cooked meals.

Ouch, my pride!
August 30th, 2009 - By: Benjamin Jordan - Location: Channel-Basques - Permalink
Since ABOVE+BEYOND's mental conception, the thought of crossing the Cabot Strait, a 120km stretch of Atlantic Ocean separating the mainland from Canada's east-most province of Newfoundland, was never something I was comfortable considering for more than ten second intervals.

Folks couldn't help but ask, "You're not going to fly across to Newfoundland ..are you!?" and my pre-programmed answer was. "No, not without a safety boat." This kept most people happy, but something about saying that left me unhappy. It wasn't until after my first day of actually looking for fast, sea-worthy boats in Baddeck that the in-authenticity of what I had been speaking all this time's smell could no longer be masked.

Imagine someone saying they would leap off that big building next-door once they had found a safety net they could trust to catch them. If they found a net, they'd probably want to keep looking. Most likely you they would never find the time to go out looking for that first one. Down the road, if someone asked them what happened to that stunt, they have an easy out "I never did find that net" ..or "The nets I had access to were a little small"

Well here I was a couple days away from the potential crossing, not having lifted as much as a finger to find a suitable boat beforehand. The boats I was finding were too slow. Something I could have easily discovered before setting out on the trip was that a sea-worthy craft capable of 30+ knots sustained for two+ hours was not a likely find unless I were flying with an illegal substance and had the RCMP on my tail.

It occurred to me that committing to the crossing, regardless of available support was what I should have done, and the only thing I could do if the universe were to provide me with the safety net I would need to make it happen, no matter in which form it came.

And there it was. I was destined to fly it. No excuses. Somehow I had come to a place where I was prepared to risk everything to include this last chunk of the fundraiser within my obsessive World Distance Record setting efforts. I was prepared to die for it and suddenly peace was upon me.

For five nights I could hardly eat or sleep. Crossing was all that mattered. My search continued and after 25 calls to sea-men, I begun calling private and commercial aeroplane pilots. Everyone was interested. Everyone wished me luck. But in the end there was no one to accompany me.

A calm after Hurricane Bill permitted Ryan and I to fly North 120 km to Bay Saint Lawrence, the incredibly beautiful Northeast tip of Cape Bretton island. Upon launch from Baddeck, a generous boat-tour opperator by the name of John Langely leant me a marine radio with which I could communicate with the coast-guard and a "survival suit" ..bright orange, the kind crab-fishermen wear when the seas become rough.

The bus was booked on to the ferry crossing 48 hours from our arrival and I would have two days within which to fly before loading my gear onto the bus and taking the ferry over. The first day grew winds of up to 60 km/h creating impossible launch conditions. The second day, I was airborne, but from high up I could see the cold-front daring me to cross it's fierce wall of rain and was scared back to the gusty coastline. I had tasted it, and though I wasn't sure what it was, I wasn't prepared to let it go. The winds looked alright for the next day and as if the universe was aligning itself, the ferry bumped us back one day later due to over-bookings caused after the Hurricane Bill service slowdown.

The next day came, and with it clouds of rain and the worst conditions we'd seen yet. "Just kidding" Mother Nature snickered. We all waited. I stared at it. The horizon, the other side, that which I thought I had tasted. But my time was up. The light was depleting and our ferry was departing from a three hour drive south. I hid on my bed in the back of the bus. This was not the end of the trip, but it was the end of my precious world record, roughly 1000 km less than I had originally set out to conquer. In my mind they had fused into one and, for a time and summed up my entire existence.

Yesterday's flight from Chanel-Port-Aux-Basques was one of the most beautiful of the entire summer (though I always say that) and replenished my heart with the various reasons I had originally conceived of the ABOVE+BEYOND concept: Photography, Flight and Philanthropy.

What I had tasted yesterday was bitter pride. Today and tomorrow we feast upon love and life.

Thank you endlessly to all of our supporters.

The end is nigh.
August 27th, 2009 - By: Jess Ahlemeier - Location: Neils Harbour - Permalink
Five AM - more days than not - finds us groggy eyed, thinking about the weather. Today was no different. At the moment, we remain at the northern tip of Nova Scotia, with the decision to cross or not cross the Cabot Strait looming over us. The winds seem to be howling...the ocean rushing...but the sky considering clearing.

Segments of our summer have been spotted with hold patterns - and this week of Hurricane Bill has offered no less restlessness than those previous legs of waiting out the weather.

Adopted crew member Quebecian Alex has joined us and since departed - having injected a bit of french, many a laugh, and some damn fine photos - whilst Nirvana distributor and paraglider pilot/instructor Ryan Shaw ( continues to offer some experienced advice, a disgust for pasta, and a Benjamin-similar caffeine addiction.

Our 0330 ferry departure puts us in Newfoundland, our final province, for late morning Friday. Where we expect, as we enter this late August weather season, weather challenges to be numerous. As for the terrain and people of that land, our expectation is of beauty and hospitality.

Here's to our second ocean crossing - whether it be by air or by sea!

Citil jsem se bezpecne a duveroval jsem svemu stroji -diky Emile a nepolevuj....
Changes in Nova Scotia
August 19th, 2009 - By: Benjamin Jordan - Location: New Glasgow, NS - Permalink
Crossing 35km of the North Umberland strait without the reassurance of a support boat is how Nova Scotia began. Since then we've been stuck under heavy South Westerly, sometimes gale-force conditions, unable to push down to the Halifax area as we'd originally intended.

Nirvana's US Rep, Ryan, was to meet us there to complete the remaining 1000-odd kilometers with me but instead came up to Truro, as far south as we could make it. We chose to b-line it back to the north coast and meet up with the kids of Canada's oldest residential camp, YMCA's Big Cove, now in it's 120th summer!

We're hoping for calmer conditions and less humidity tomorrow allowing for a swift, beautiful leg about 175 km east to Baddeck where we've got a formation event planned with the Alexandre Graham Bell Museum as part of the 100th anniversary of flight in Canada ..the inaugural flight happened there.

Between our new ground person/documentarian, Alex, and pilot Ryan, Jess and I have been adapting rather well to the overwhelming number of changes in the air and on the ground. Luckily Keren has had time to help out with admin phone calls from her home in Toronto! All we need now is help finding a boat for the Cabot Strait Crossing.


Rocking out in PEI
August 14th, 2009 - By: Benjamin Jordan - Location: Charlottetown - Permalink
After a couple days of rain and rest at the Powered Paragliding New Brunswick school, we've stepped it up into a record high gear in executing SIX formations and youth presentations in just 48 hours ..four of which took place on the beautiful Prince Edward Island.

To offer some perspective, it took both B.C. and Alberta to get our first six in the bag. That the country's smallest of provinces would participate as one of the biggest warms my heart.

And after such a successful run in these two Maritime provinces, we're looking forward to beautiful warm welcomes in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The bodies of water separating us from them are no simple matter and if YOU know of folks residing in either that may be able to support the 120 km NS to NL crossing with a fast zodiac or similar boat, we will be happy to cover fuel costs for the mission.

Any leads also appreciated. We can be reached any time at 1-250-505-8055.
And then we were two. For a moment.
August 8th, 2009 - By: Jess Ahlemeier - Location: Riviere-du-Loup - Permalink
Now, after ten weeks of surviving the myriad of challenges stored within our cross-Canadian adventure, we have sadly passed the anticipated departure date of our crew member Keren.

Needing the final month of summer to wrap-up family visits and prepare for possible entrance back into university, Keren flew - unfortunately, not under paraglider - back west through lands recently covered in our one-and-only Honey Bus.

Lovely lady, we miss your smile, your organization, your honesty, your dedication, and your heart. Not to mention that doing the work of three people, as two, leaves very little time for sleep. And we like sleep. ;)

Thanks for the journey - it has been quite the whirl-wind adventure with many joy-filled - also, stress-filled, as you will recall - memories. I will not forget our ice cream rendezvouses, tension-relieving low-belly growls, poi/hula stops, dinner/3-D movie going, crashing objects on the bus, or cheese sandwiches.

You do so much for the lives of others, remember always to take just as much care for yourself, as you know the universe will do the same for you in return.

Happiness, always.
...well, at least, as often as possible...

heart -
Ben and jess.
Gratitude for camp
July 22nd, 2009 - By: Keren Menashe - Location: Orillia - Permalink
Camp season is in full swing now and we are privileged enough to be invited in to their magical worlds and participate for a short time.

It makes me glad that there are so many awesome counselors out there who are giving back to the camps that gave them. I'm so grateful that there are wonderful directors who put in the work all year around and make summers possible.

Circumstance had it that I presented to the last two camps because Ben had to launch from another field and I was so amazed at how peaceful the kids were. It was really great to see how easy it is to captivate kids under in this special kind of environment. School kids definitely didn't have this kind of attention span...

Thank You to all the people out there who recognize the joy that camp brings to kids. Thank you to everyone who is working hard being the magic makers at your respective camps.

With gratitude and respect,
Summer Adventuring.
July 18th, 2009 - By: Jess Ahlemeier - Location: Thunder Bay - Permalink

July 15 signified Above + Beyond Canada's two month anniversary in our eastward progression across the country. We have presented at over fifteen schools or camps since our campaign launch on Vancouver Island in May.

We have maneuvered landings and launches from turbulent school grounds and rocky terrain, in light sprinkles and solid winds, with limited landing options and sporadic radio communication...all teaching us the value of flexibility, patience, and experience within those differing conditions.

Our eight-window support bus Honey, official crew member #4, holds not only our belongings but also our stresses and our hearts. She has collected children's hand prints since British Columbia, building a beautiful rainbow across the Canadian map on her side.

Currently, we are in our fifth day of being grounded in Thunder Bay due to high winds and rain. Our frustrations are being soothed by poi spinning, photo play, and friend gathering. Our hosts from the Superior Science Camp, and families in our cul-de-sac area, are graciously treating us to garden-fresh meals, engaging discussions, and sports car testing. Because we are setting the World Powered-Paragliding Distance Record, it is required for us to land and launch from the same area - so we continue to wait, as the new *bus* neighbor on the block, and hope for the winds to calm or switch to tail.

Thank you everyone for the support, as we break this weather restlessness,
A + B Crew.
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