This morning’s weather afforded a reprise of yesterday’s struggles up top, this time with the knowledge gleaned from repeatedly watching the video where I was dragged along the ground after a botched launch of the wing, as well as a couple of immediate video reviews on my first couple of failed attempts this morning. A laser focus on my hands made all the difference. By ensuring I am holding the A’s long enough to generate the right wing momentum I get the double benefit of not applying the brakes prematurely. Being conscious about remaining square with the wing also helped a lot. I still had a bit of a stutter step but the hand technique was the outlier problem and if I can put that on auto-pilot then I can peel off some brain cycles to tune the feet.
On my first launch off the training hill I neglected to give the brake lines a good pumping after spinning forward which meant I was not in an optimally stable state when I began running but things worked out tolerably well and the rest of the flight was nice.
I struggled to get the wing in the air cleanly for a second flight. On the first attempt it looks like I lost my balance, leaned a bit downhill, and inadvertently applied pressure to my downhill hand which collapsed the uphill wingtip.
Instead of resetting up the hill we continued to attempt launches farther down and to the left with various new situations illustrating more of the many challenges of getting the wing in the air under imperfect conditions. In one case I found myself standing on loose soil in a steep section and lost my footing. In another case the wind cut out just as I was about to turn around, I started to correct by running backward down the hill, but then my monkey brain asked “what exactly are you doing running backward down a hill?” and I chickened out. By the time I finally got the wing launched I was low enough on the hill that I hardly got any altitude, I had biased toward running with the fall line versus into the wind, and the whole affair was most illustrative as a failure. Being so low I immediately suffered vision lock on what was right in front of me instead of where I wanted to go and landed too fast and out of alignment with the wind. It ended up being of no particular consequence but was a great reminder of a problem that I need to crush so I will operate safely in more worrisome situations.
Toward the end we took some time to practice inflating and forward kiting the wing to reinforce all the learnings from earlier in the day. The transitions between various kinds of inputs in the face of varying conditions is starting to feel a little more fluid.
The evening’s excitement began as I got to the end of my street on my way to the Flight Park and was startled to see what appears to have been a blaze in Orem from (not so) afar.
Shortly after I got to the Northside I saw a water bomber making a trip.
As for actual paragliding practice, the evening was mostly a bust, first with wind that was cray, then with wind that mellowed out really fast. I got in a miniscule amount of inflation and kiting practice but that’s life with a sport that hinges on weather. I’m grateful for an excellent morning.
By the time I returned home a couple hours later the fire situation seemed less dramatic.