Trial Flight: Paragliding Coaching in Valle de Bravo

Over the years I’ve come to realize that there are a quartet of relationship silos that everyone in my life falls into one of.

Romantic, Personal, Professional, and Business.

Each of these is disjoint and once a person is placed into a silo, they almost always remain there. Romantic is my significant other. Personal starts with family at the upper end and close friends at the bottom. Professional are acquaintances and work colleagues. Business is everyone else.

When a person is met and the relationship starts to establish, they are judged based upon a trio of criteria – Chemistry, Compatibility, and Currency. The higher up the relationship ladder, the higher the expectation in each category. Chemistry is attraction and is used exclusively within Romantic. Compatibility includes outlook, values, communication style, self awareness, awareness of others, common courtesy – basically the things that help people get along. Compatibility applies to everyone aside from Business. Currency encompasess what the person brings to the table that is of use to me and, as we look further up the ladder towards Romantic, are they able to maintain a lifestyle similar to mine (if a person cannot afford to do the things you do, you are likely not going to see much of each other).

Coaches. Now coaches occupy a unique position, requiring a pseudo Personal relationship within a Business like arrangement. This means that the Compatibility requirement is uncharacteristically high for what is otherwise a straight forward exchange of money for time.

This unique characteristic requires that I test the waters before going all in when engaging a coach. I like to talk to them, get a sense of how we get along, see how they provide feedback and is the communication two way? In the case of paragliding, that means a test flight.

And today is that day.

I had met Pete Thompson briefly the night before on the van ride back from the Piano LZ after our sunset flight. Listening to him engage with his current client, Becky, gave me the sense that he would be very worthwhile approaching regarding some in air coaching. So the next morning on the ride up, I began to query Pete about his background, teaching style, rates, and outlook. All the boxes were quickly checked and by the time we reached launch a deal to get both of us in the air together that day was reached.

The plan

Pete would have Becky launch after the first handful of gliders have marked a consistent climb. Then while on radio, Becky would be directed through the motions of thermaling and working with other pilots sharing the same climb. Once conditions got too strong, the gaggle too large, or Becky starts to show signs of an out of memory error – Pete would direct her to land and we would head out.

The goal for the day is simple, climb out, head out over the back towards the San Agustine turn point (the wind was lining launch and the turn point up perfectly), and make a run for the lake. Direction and commentary would be provided by Pete while in climbs and on glide. Pete points out that he can be very verbose in the air, which I prefer.

The flight

Once airborne, we quickly climb out and begin drifting as expected. The run to San Agustine is a straight forward affair with a low save over La Casa on my part. Along the way Pete provides comments on my thermal technique, use of bar, points out good points to looks for thermals ahead (and why) and macro observations of how the day/conditions are shaping up.

Sadly the lake was not to be as I set down at the last good LZ before town, Casa Veijas. But that is quickly forgotten in my elation as to how the day unfolded. Pete is given a huge thumbs up and booked for every day leading up to the XCSkyRace.

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Pete on launch eyeing conditions and climbs.
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Climbing out.
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Linking up with Pete on the Orange/Red Ozone Zeno.
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On glide.
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Diving into La Casa, looking for a save.
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Climbing again.
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Another glide.
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Lake off in the distance, likely not going to make it.
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Lower right, Casa Veijas LZ.

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