Paragliding Day 41

The wind looked amazing this morning but apparently my body thought it important to rack up nine hours of sleep last night. I’ll take what I can get in that department. Glorious. I can’t remember the last time I scored so big there. Happily the wind saw fit to blow solidly from the south all day so I got in a solid session at FPS ~1415-1645 anyway.

I would guess the wind was 12G14 around the time I got going the first time. Inflating, kiting to the edge, and launching was a bit of work, but it felt a bit more manageable on my new 37 m^2 Bion than I imagine it would have on the 41 m^2 I had been demo’ing up until this week. The real trouble did not begin until after I launched. I found myself struggling to slide backward into a seated position in my harness and regrettably allowed that to provide sufficient distraction that I sunk out too much to get to go soaring. Ugh. That was a prioritization failure. I should have focused first and foremost on making the turns I wanted and accepted that I would be dangling awkwardly longer than usual. After landing at the bottom I hiked half way up and then practiced uphill kiting a bit. After that grew tedious I hiked the rest of the way up for another go.

By this time the wind had attenuated sufficiently I gathered I had missed my opportunity for soaring. I loosened my harness’s leg straps slightly in the hopes that this would resolve the issue from the last flight and then kited for bit to get some practice on that front. I eventually I decided to launch again and… sonofabitch I had the same problem sliding back into my harness again. This time, however, I aborted fiddling with it more proactively, prioritizing handling the wing over the harness as I ought have on the previous flight. Sadly the wind was sufficiently weaker by this point that there was no soaring in the offing. Alas. You can get all of the things right some of the time, and some of the things right all of the time, etc… This time at the bottom, at least, I lucked out and hitched a ride to the top in the back of someone’s pickup truck.

Before my third flight I spent more time fiddling with my harness straps to get a fit that would work. I realized that the shoulder straps being overly cinched down had likely caused the issues on my last two flights. As validation I made sure I could attain a seated posture while standing on the ground. This seems like something that ought be a standard part of my preflight routine. After this I inflated, quickly got going, and finally had a technically smooth flight like I wish I had had on the previous ones.

I heard Chris of Super Fly Paragliding, who had sold me my forever wing just days earlier, cheering me on and looked down to see him snapping this photo of me

Sliding back into a seated position in my harness offered no challenge this time. The only “moment” I had during the flight occurred on my final eastward track when I suddenly sunk sufficiently unexpectedly that I had an “eek” moment WRT my ground proximity but I quickly turned away from the hill and all was well. This has me thinking about the subtly different characteristics of my new wing. It turns more aggressively, which is unambiguously nice, but it’s also slightly less lift-y, which I appreciate when I am launching as I feel less prone to getting dragged, and yet it also means (as best I can tell) that I have to expect my glide paths will be slightly shorter.

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