Paragliding Day 42

I lamentably slept through some nice morning southside wind again, but I feel like my body was telling me something and who would I be to argue with that. I imagined that this could be another all southerly day and so I might get a second chance on that side but instead, contrary to the forecast, the wind whipped around to offer a northside afternoon and, having scouted it out, Ariel suggested I head on over. On my drive over I got my hopes up at the sight of someone soaring but by the time I arrived the wind was already weak and cross. Blah. The vagaries of weather that one accepts as a paraglider.

I strapped into my harness imagining I would at least get some kiting practice for my troubles. Just as I readied myself, however, conditions became vaguely hopeful. I inflated, spun around, and immediately made a go of things. The wind was slightly gusty and variable but I remained solidly in control on my departure. The final stretch, I will admit, felt moderately sketchy, and I wish I had played it slightly differently, but I ultimately took off without incident.

My feet grazed some gnarly bushes and I could imagine having gotten tangled in them and then had the wing come over my head for a messy and mildly injurious deflation. In hindsight I wish I had cut further rightward and jumped off a more cliff-y section that would have involved greater commitment but less options for entanglement. This evening made me appreciate more viscerally how forgiving southside launches are with its wide open and steep terrain which allows you to just run faster if the wind proves weak. It feels like there are lots of situations in paragliding where you either need to commit 0% or 100% as waffling is what creates the serious risks.

Should totally have run more to the right…
… and jumped into the gully…

Similar to many of my flights subsequent to acquiring my new wing I came up a bit short of my intended landing spot. This presumably stems from two things, firstly my new wing being slightly less lift-y than my customary one, and secondly that my brain is relying overly much on hard-coded values instead of computing things dynamically based on how earlier portions of the flight are playing out. To be able to handle a variety of conditions and, in the fullness of time, a variety of different wings my brain needs to be computing approaches based predominantly on the observed descent rate of the moment instead of static visual references to familiar terrain.

The hike back to the top offered ample time to reflect on the flight’s lessons and also to watch other pilots sink out. You can’t always get what you want, unless what you want includes simply to learn, in which case if you’re paying attention there is always something to be had.

Ariel making the most of what the afternoon had to offer

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