Here I go! I've been flying tandems for a couple of years now, and last summer I was lucky enough to work full-time at a paragliding school and flew over 150 tandems for them. Since my certification I have also worked for myself and wondered where exactly my tandem and instructor licenses would take me. Teaching students from scratch hasn't been my first focus, although I do love teaching the basics at ground school (ground handling, etc). It's also quite an expensive option, as the instructor needs training gear (school gliders, harnesses, helmets, etc) and besides, my friends have a good school already with all the facilities.
So this year I decided to focus on training pilots who were already signed off with their "novice" rating, but were looking for more guidance and information. I was approached last summer by a couple of pilots about this option, and this year decided to go ahead and DO IT! I put a note up on my website and started working on my plan.
In the mean time, a newer pilot approached me with some questions about competing and suggested I put on a course for those like him who had no idea what it was all about. He offered up a meeting room at his worksite and voila! About a dozen pilots attended, were really supportive of my idea of continuing to teach classes and courses and a handful asked about the intermediate coaching program they saw on my website.
In his now-famous Standford graduation speech, Steve Jobs talked about looking back through your life and seeing how all the dots connected to get you where you are today. I'm having one of those moments now, and am excited and feel I'm on the right path, even if it is currently a little crooked as I weave through financial hurdles, outside jobs and logistics.
In addition to my coaching and tandems, I'm setting up a web shop so I can offer cool flying items - things I've been looking for but often have trouble finding. The first items I'm selling are my company T-shirt and the Microvario, an audio only vario that only weighs an ounce! I bought it so I wouldn't have to keep switching my gear between my solo and tandem wings and was really happy with it so asked Flyte Park if I could carry their product.
Here's the link to my website, and even though I don't have web design experience I'm pretty proud of it. I'm still working on the shop & figuring out shipping costs and all but if you want to order something please fill out the contact form there & let me know. My first orders are going in soon!
Thanks so much for your support so far, I'm having a blast on this journey and hope you're all able to find that inner fire that pushes you to keep following your dreams,no matter how crazy they may seem to somebody else!
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Life is constantly changing. Most of the time it's gradual...you get a haircut, start taking a night class, meet different people and then one day see a picture of yourself with your shiny new hair and shiny new friends and think, "Wow, things have really changed". But some moments change everything in an instant. My little flying community recently had one of those moments. There was a bad hang gliding accident on Saturday morning that shook us all. I am grateful I didn't witness it directly but just hearing what happened & imagining it still makes me feel sick to my stomach. And even though it involved a hang glider and not a paraglider we're still such a small tight-knit group that having something like this happen at my mountain makes this personal and even more devastating than hearing about it happening somewhere else. Luckily it's been raining every day since and looks like it will be for the rest of the week, so having to even think about flying right now isn't something we have to deal with. My heart is warmed by comments made by pilots new & experienced, talking about how we're going to look out for each other more and put aside differences like what flying school or club you may be affiliated with or what type of glider you fly. No one ever wants anything bad to happen to those they share the air with, whether a close friend or mere acquaintance. As each day passes, it's a little easier to look forward and concentrate on what we can do better instead of dwelling on the nightmare of this unfortunate accident. Each day it's a little easier to look forward to a new direction in paragliding...teaching and sharing more, and rebuilding our sport from the ground up. You could even say we have a chance to renovate our sport. As much as we pride ourselves on being "free flyers" and "free" of all the rules & regulations present in other forms of aviation, I think a lot of what we do is because "it's how it's always been done". And as for a lot of things in life, that doesn't always mean it's the best way. I'm terribly guilty of this myself, and coincidentally have been working on changing these beliefs in my personal life...changing things I've done a certain way without ever questioning them. So now I'm waiting for the time I can be excited about flying again, and will start to build a better paragliding (& hang gliding) sport along with my fellow feathered friends. Soon I will be excited once again to experience the thrill of sharing the joy I get from flying with excited passengers on tandems, and to share my knowledge with pilots looking to improve themselves. Paragliding has completely shaped my life as I know it - I'm who I am today because of it - and I don't want that to change. I believe life is about finding what makes you happy, and despite everything, paragliding is that thing for me. I hope to share it with others again soon and even bring a little more happiness into their lives.