Paragliding Day 66

Doubtless much spittle graced my monitor owing to maddening struggles convincing the computers of the world to do my bidding but by 1600 they finally went clickety and I began vectoring myself toward a ~1650 Northside arrival. An initially lackluster wind would turn into a slightly less lackluster wind, enough to eke out a respectable amount of ridge soaring, but nothing remarkable. By 1705 I was ready to go, performed a preliminary inflation to inspect the riggings, then let my wing down to wait for the right moment.

At 1710 I inflated again, spun forward, checked for clean brake lines, danced around another pilot whose wing was taking up a goodly portion of the finger, dealt with a brief asymmetric deflation, and powered through enough of a headwind to have some work but nothing epic. I had wanted to turn left initially to head toward the greater of the two thermals I had observed other pilots riding but turned right instead to avoid oncoming pilots. Happily I found enough lift to chain things together into a flight that lasted ~20 minutes.

Perhaps most notable from the experience were the challenges and risks around attention splitting when attempting to exploit thermals while flying near the ground. I caught myself at one moment overly fixated on another pilot’s trajectory as I attempted to emulate it from behind and below. I was nowhere near an actual hill-strike but found myself imagining how easily I might have allowed fixation on one problem to foment ignorance of another. I resolved to be more diligent.

I find myself reminded of my only at-fault car accident, an unpleasant affair from over a decade ago. I had just left a volleyball game and was on a side street (Main St) that merged awkwardly onto a highway (Route 1) where you needed to be looking over your left shoulder then stomp the gas at the right moment. I did what I had done countless times prior: waited for the car ahead of me to go, looked over my left shoulder to ensure clearance, let off the brake, and *CRUNCH*. The car ahead of me had balked and I rolled into it at 2 MPH. No serious damage, no injuries, but a painful lesson. You need to be continuously glancing where you are going. Sounds obvious but when there is a lot going on it can be easy to forget…

This evening I was mostly doing the right thing and the results were fine but multi-tasking is a hard yet critical thing where laxity can yield tragedy.

Joe comes in for a landing moments after I do.

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