PHOTOS: An aerial tour from Vernon to the Monashee Mountains

Doug Sperlich, 24, owns and maintains a 1963 airplane which he keeps at the Vernon Airport. On Jan. 4, 2020, he’ll make his way to Antarctica to work as a first officer for Calgary-based airline Kenn Borek Air. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

In little over a week’s time, Doug Sperlich will begin a two week-long trek to Antarctica. There, the 24-year-old pilot from Enderby will work as a first officer, flying researchers and logistics teams around the frozen continent.

But when he’s not working behind the yoke of a 6,000-pound Twin Otter, Sperlich enjoys taking his much smaller airplane for a whirl around the North Okanagan – while both awing and terrifying a Morning Star reporter in the process.

Mid-morning on Boxing Day the sun broke through in Vernon. That afternoon some low patches of clouds crept in and by 3 p.m. the conditions were perfect for a jaunt over the Monashee Mountains in the Lumby area.

The cabin is a cramped fit for two, and the takeoff was a touch wobbly as the $30,000 plane hit turbulence in the initial ascent.

“Let me know as soon as you’re feeling sick,” Sperlich said, careful to gauge what sort of manoeuvres he can do with a first-timer.

In just 20 minutes we’re over Lumby and the Monashee Mountains are growing larger. The plane skims over the low cloud formations before Sperlich starts another ascent – this time up to 9,000 feet.

Circling the mountains, Sperlich decides to test his passenger’s stomach.

He makes what looks like a subtle movement of the controls and suddenly the plane turns on a dime, its wings perpendicular to the ground. The rocky formation next to us is jutting upwards towards us such that the mountain and the aircraft appear to be on a collision course.

Sperlich then levels the plane and perspective snaps back into focus.

After a few more loops the mountains are turning pink and purple – and not purely from dizziness. The sun is waning and there’s just enough time to land before dark.

Feet firmly planted back on Earth, this reporter is left with his head still in the clouds.

READ MORE: Enderby pilot to make second journey to Antarctica

READ MORE: Vernon airport prepares for plane crashes


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Living with faith

Bea Buhler is a pillar of strength at the Alliance Church

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

Okanagan women spending quarantine making masks

Group at Predator Ridge, and a colleague in Vernon, keeping busy making surgical masks for others

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

World COVID-19 update: U.S. expects 100,000 deaths; Oregon declares disaster

Comprehensive update of world news for Sunday, March 19.

Second million-dollar lotto ticket sold in Okanagan

Twice, in less than a month, somebody won Guaranteed Match Number prize with ticket bought in Vernon

No hesitation; two bystanders assist in South Okanagan house fire rescue

“I’d do it for anybody,” says Penticton man after assisting in house fire rescue

Summerland churches go online during COVID-19 pandemic

Livestream services, online support provided to congregations and community

Most Read