Paragliding Day 33

After an awesome Saturday morning to celebrate my freshly minted P2 the wind proved uncooperative until today. Even today looked likely to disappoint until the last moment when suddenly the forecast promised a twofer.

Always a welcome sight to see the flag thus unfurled on my way to southside

I established the morning’s main goal as getting some southside top landing practice. To that end I performed a drama-free reverse inflation and got going. Conditions were soarable and so I did a few loops atop the ridge then began cheating inward on a westward leg and allowed myself to descend. Slightly before touchdown I swung to a southerly track facing into the wind, landed gently, quickly spun to a reverse kiting position, and took a moment to reorient before relaunching. As I worked the wing I heard the radio come alive and Ben remark that Joe was flying past me. Finally his first flight after many months recovering from a knee injury! What a wonderful occasion for him. Moments later he also top-landed, slightly east of my position, and we both pondered a relaunch.

Alas it was not to be for me. The wind out that far west proved tricky, first resulting in a deflation of my wing, and later some high drama forward kiting that kept dragging me backward. I felt out of control and so spun around, shut it down, packed it up, and returned to my original launch site.

Having reset to my original position I found conditions slightly debatable. I remarked to Ben on how few wings were in the air and he noted the ambiguity at this time of day (~1000) around whether that owed to conditions versus people merely having made their way to work. He got on his way and left me to my own judgment. I attempted one inflation but it was a hot mess and so I shut things down for the day. In hindsight I either should have hiked downward for a sidehill launch or packed it up. Conditions were sporadically at the edge of what I could handle and I would do well to give myself wider margins for error so early in this new phase of autonomy.

Later in the day I found conditions a bit weak but strong enough I thought I would head to northside with the worst case being that I might get some kiting practice. Having arrived and setup I found the wind just barely strong enough to perform a reverse inflation. On the first occasion I failed to keep it up for more than a few seconds. I thus decided that I might as well make a go of a sled ride and so reverse inflated again, immediately spun forward, began trotting toward the ledge, then started running harder as the wind attenuated, and I was off. I swung rightward for a brief eastward leg, swung 180 degrees to the left for a westward leg, swung 180 degrees rightward for a return leg, got lofted a little bit, then performed an S-turn to set myself up for a landing, and finally touched down just short of my aiming point.

From a technical standpoint this flight proved utterly unremarkable. From a psychological standpoint, however, it offered a pivotal experience insofar as this was my first ever flight totally on my own. When I reported into Ben he remarked that this was “another quiet but big milestone”.

so close!
a nice clean deflation followed by a moment to drink it all in
jealously regarding the soaring pilots about to top-land instead of hiking back up
squint and you can see the green tarp I was targeting
taking a moment to regard my nearby mountain home on the horizon

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