Paragliding Days 58 and 59

Yesterday the wind careened all over the damn place. South? North? Back to south? Dafuq. Joe, Joey, and I snagged a brief bit of opposite-direction kiting at northside and that was about it. I got some good practice on line handling in weird conditions, partly helped with some coaching from Alex, but no flying.

A fun perspective on my wing’s monstrous proportions, or… PACMAN GO NOM

This morning’s sunrise was beautiful outside my house…

… but sadly by my arrival at FPS the wind appeared weak and across…

I setup and kited for a while then made a go of a sledder. I managed a reasonably accurate landing while other new-ish pilots reminded me of not-so-long-ago Andrew, landing all over the place, including one pilot who ended up all the way over in the field beyond the road.

Having hiked back to the top I found wind that felt uncomfortably strong and thermic. I decided to drive down to the bottom for some kiting practice. First, however, I hung out with Ariel a bit to get some demonstrations of high-wind line handling.

At the bottom, setting up on the lower portion of the training hill, I took the time to take a closer look at my harness and realized that I had likely of late been clipping in with a waist-loop with a twist in it. On a tactical level, this would explain recent struggles ooching into a seated position in my harness. On a strategic level, this elucidates the importance of doing certain safety checks before getting into the harness, certain value only being extractable from an outside perspective. Checking my reserve chute configuration health has long been on such a list but now proper orientation of harness straps has joined that.

Ariel came to the bottom to hang out and offered an assortment of tutelage on kiting technique. Of particular novel experience was playing around with using a combos of As (gas) and Cs (steering) to manage the wing. I appreciate the degree of finesse this allows versus trying to dance between raw brakes for steering and As to coax the wing back overhead where your hands are forced to choose between one or the other and thus prone to creating a regrettable penduluming. Eventually I had kited my wing about half way up the hill and opted to go for a sledder. Having arrived at the bottom I continued to work on various kiting techniques as I fought my wing back to the car. No epic flying this morning, but lots of really good ground handling practice… I am gradually becoming comfortable having my hands dance between different lines to keep the wing in balance and that feels quite satisfying relative to the brutish experience of being a total n00b who simply hauls the wing up with As and then steers it with brakes until it flops back down.

This evening… the wind was a tease. Lots of aggravating para-waiting by despondent pilots…

Eventually I sensed wind adequate to take a sled ride and went for it. During my progression up the finger I was remembering Chris’s recent advice to go easy on the throttle until within striking distance and then slam it in shortly before launch. During my approach to the edge I kept glancing rightward at the sock to track the current wind with the goal of pivoting at the last moment to launch directly into it. Maybe 20-30 feet from the ledged I heaved my body hard against the harness for a sprint and at the last moment angled a touch rightward to account for a subtly easterly wind and I was off. I felt a tinge of fear as I gazed at menacing bushes below my feet but really they were no issue. Not only were they reasonably distant but also I was keeping my legs straight out to minimize collision risk even if the wind sought to cause problems. Beyond that I had a fairly generic ride to the bottom, landing pretty close to the target tarp, the only notable thing being that I had an easier time ooching into a sitting position in my harness than recently, presumably owing to the improved checklisting mentioned earlier.

Moderately disappointing wind today but plenty of compensatory hiking and ground-handling practice so not all bad…

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