Just for those of you who aren't quite sure what a tandem paragliding flight looks like, here's one of my launches. (I'm the pilot-in-command, which means I'm flying the glider from the backseat.) Yeehaw!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Taking on this tandem adventure has taught me so much more than I expected, and that's with just 5 tandems under my belt. The biggest surprise has been the biggest compliment, which is the number of pilots volunteering to be my practice passengers. I hadn't expected so many people to offer to potentially be run over, surfed in or dragged around! Luckily all my tandems have been great, aside from a bit of excitement on the last one yesterday where the wing overshot us while launching. I slammed on the brakes to kill the wing as it had started dragging us down and across the hill, but it turns out that I didn't have nearly enough brake on originally and when I tried abort the launch it actually popped us up & got us airborne. So now I have an up-close and personal understanding of how much extra brake I need on that giant wing!
After doing 2 tandems Sunday morning I took a break to drive for others who had been kind enough to drive for me in the morning. While hanging out at launch I snapped a picture of this incredible cloud shaped like an eagle. It turned out way better than I thought (just used my iphone) and I'm pretty sure that it was a sign that the sky is happy with me :)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Yesterday was my first tandem flight as the pilot-in-command. It was AWESOME! I'd been kicking around the idea of getting my tandem rating for about a year and now that I'm pursuing it I feel like I'm on the exact right path. Everything has been coming together for this and it's amazing. First, the tandem course was being held at a time I was actually going to be in town and secondly my friend Veronica decided to sell me her tandem gear which is my size & in mint condition (because she's a pretty girl & not a smelly boy and paragliding gear reflects that, you see). Also, my job as a personal trainer has taught me instructional skills so I'm comfortable relating information to passengers, plus I live about 10 minutes from my friend's paragliding school so I'll be able to work for him instructing & doing tandems all summer.
It's so cool when things fall into place, it seems we struggle more than we need to in life and to have something come together like this is like a gift. Ok enough hippy-dippy love talk, it's just that I'm so at one with all of this. Ha!
So my first tandem flight went off smoothly & better than I could have imagined. I thought we'd do a forward launch and have a pleasant little sledder, but instead there were strong cycles on launch so I got to reverse, kite the wing & thermal around for over half an hour! Plus we had a perfect landing thanks to the steady wind in the LZ. I couldn't have asked for anything better.
I had another fun first yesterday. On rainy days I take martial arts (a mix of different styles) and I recently signed up for the Black Belt Club. That means I get to start learning weapons and last night I got to play with nun-chuks for the first time. So fun! No pictures yet, maybe when I can do something cool with them I'll make a little video.
Hmmm....maybe I can incorporate them into my tandem flying. "I said RUN dammit! Hi-yaaa!"
Monday, April 5, 2010
"If you don't like the weather...wait 5 minutes."
Jim's saying from yesterday was even more relevant this afternoon. Yesterday we waited for a hailstorm to pass and then got extended sled rides, but today's dash up the hill after launch *finally* cleared brought us amazing and exciting soaring to cloudbase (and beyond!..not mentioning any names...).
Jim flew tandem with Thomm's daughter who's been watching her dad fly for years but has never wanted to try. She changed her mind and after thermalling through cloud wisps I'd say Thomm's got a new flying addict on his hands! Anyway, when we saw the tandem gain height right after launching the rest of us got ready fast and started rushing off launch. The cycles felt strong but our wings were coming up cross and didn't feel loaded. Hmm...might have been the thermals, might have been the frenzy to get in the air. I grabbed a great launch cycle, then hit nothing but sink on the way to the thermal. I could see everyone else getting sucked up to the clouds and relied on Paragliding Faith alone that the thermal had to be on the other side of this monster sink. Sure enough the lift was there and soon I was adjusting my thermals to stay in the blue holes. Sweet! The edges of the thermals were drastic - I had a 50% collapse once - and after talking to the other pilots later found out I wasn't the only one.
My last thermal on the hill drifted me towards the LZ and then spit me out into sink. I could see Norm & Jim maintaining nearby so thought I'd be able to eke out a few extra minutes if I could just get to them. I passed by the LZ at a height I'd usually start thinking about landing at but knew I had enough height to fly under the boys' thermal, try one 360 while searching for lift & still clear the trees to make a safe landing if I didn't find anything. At 123 meters (!) I caught enough of that thermal to make a whole turn. And another. And another, yay! I hung onto that sucker and got back up to over 400 meters. But the weather was changing again, so after making my super sweet low save I spiralled down (wheee!) and packed up before the dark clouds got any closer.
p.s. One thing did suck today (besides the clouds, ha ha). My camera batteries died as soon as I turned it on so no pix of the awesome flying we had.