The flying season JUST started this weekend! For me at least...and everyone else with a Monday-Friday job. This past weekend was the first one where we finally had sun every day. It wasn't epic by any means but we did get in a couple of hour long flights (plus I took a friend tandem). However I did manage to squeak in a couple of flights between showers over the past two months (literally...2 flights) and having goals in mind did help me get a lot more out of them.
Back in March I had my first hour long flight of the season. The first thing I noticed was that I was so nervous about flying (from worrying about potentially being "rusty") that I couldn't eat breakfast. That led to feeling nauseous when turning 360's in the bumpy thermals and after about 45 minutes I noticed a big drop in my energy level and concentration. Takeaway lesson - Proper nutrition and endurance training should not be overlooked, and of course you should try to fly as much as possible to build up "bump tolerance". Those first two I can control, so now make sure to eat and bring snacks and water to launch (even if I think it will be a short flight). I've also been challenging myself to ever-increasing steps on my FitBit to build up my overall fitness level, along with getting back into yoga.
In regards to technical skills, I'd written about watching the numbers on your flying instrument to figure out how long to stay in the thermal. On one of those flights I watched and noticed that the thermals started at .3m/s. Sticking with them until I reached that climb rate again was a good lesson - it worked, and it taught me patience. Normally I would have taken a guess when to fly away and look for something else, and having a goal to focus on was helpful.
Mental training is another key issue, and as it happens in life it seems that every paragliding magazine or podcast I come across lately is talking about it. Meditation is key, and I've found that visualization does actually transfer over when in the air. You do have to be consistent though! My biggest obstacle to flying well is my (lack of) belief in my own skills. Visualizing being confident and rational, as opposed to getting "scared"in the air when conditions are strong, is actually working. How about that?
|Launching my Skywalk Chili 4...blue skies everywhere!|