Eleven thousand meters over the arctic circle, in a metal tube hurtling through the atmosphere at an appreciable fraction of the speed of sound.
I look back on my experiences over the past four weeks, a few epiphanies come to mind:
Seize every chance to learn.
Every pilot, novice to master, has something to share.
There is only one rule in the air – land safely.
EN/LTF testing is a non reproducible experiment in a non realistic environment.
Too much emphasis is placed on the rating of a wing as opposed to finding the right wing for a pilots experience, skill, and flying environment.
“I fly a ‘B’ wing because it’s safe”, are the words heralding an eventual tree ornament.
If we get to the point where we are relying on the passive safety of our wing (aka rating) – we have already failed in terms of judgment and skill. See ‘eventual tree ornament’ above.
We are loathe to blame the pilot, yet quick to blame the wing, the wind, the phase of the moon.
We don’t take collapses in calm air over lakes.
The air does not appear in front of you, state it will pull your risers in three seconds, allow you to get ready, confirm you are ready, then do it.
Safety starts and ends with the puppet.
The first flights on a new wing should involve turning it inside out in a safe environment. If it scares us then, imagine what it will be like blowing out 100′ from a cliff face at midday.
SIV is as much about learning what kind of pilot we are as what kind of wing we fly.
An SIV flight where nothing goes wrong offers only a limited learning opportunity. The best SIV flights are the ones that go off script. A flight that starts with the wing shouting ‘F it, we’ll do it live’ will teach the most both about the wing and yourself.
Group SIV courses are great for the first three or four times, after that – individualized instruction is the way to go. By that point, you know what needs addressing.
Never give up. But know when it is time to go land.
Leave lift only when there is a clear, readily reachable landing option at all times during transition.
Leave lift only when there are at least two ways to climb out waiting on the other side.
It takes two to have a mid-air collision, but only one to avoid it.
All eggs in one basket (gliding to an isolated source of lift) should be an option of last resort and best saved for the final push to goal.
Boredom and fatigue are the primary causes for an XC flight to end. Being able to pre-order a beer via radio is a close third.
The Swiss are great civic planners, the Italians – not so much.
The Italians have a great sense of humor, the Swiss – not so much.
Annecy is a great place to go see.
Bassano is a great place to go fly.
Whoever said pimpin’ ain’t easy, didn’t paraglide.
A blow out is natures way of saying, ‘you are in the wrong place at the wrong time of day.’
Never, ever break the Golden Rule.
If you want to learn what the Golden Rule is and how not to break it, start by liking Austrian Arena’s Facebook page.
Paragliding is just an excuse for people to get together on a hill to enjoy a view, and in a field to enjoy a beer.