Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Look Mom! I'm on TV!

And I thought nothing exciting happened in this sleepy little town!

A couple of months ago I got an email from a girl (Tiffany) at our neighbourhood cable TV station. She wanted to do a human interest story on a local paraglider pilot so had contacted the president of our flying club and he'd recommended me. Since I'd just gotten my tandem rating they thought that could be a good part of the story. That, and I'm awesomely cool. Heh.

The day of filming was really fun. My friend Kevin came out to shoot it with me and we did a couple of solo flights in the morning then I took Tiffany tandem. They interviewed Kevin afterwards as well which I'm sure will turn out great (he is also awesomely cool) then we did all the close ups on my gear, clipping in, and various other shots. Now I just have to wait. Have I ever mentioned my issues with patience? Waiting is NOT my forte!

Unfortunately they don't give out copies of their stories so I won't be able to post my 5 minutes of fame. There's a chance it will be on their website some day, they're working on putting a local page together with their news stories but don't have anything up yet. In the meantime I'll be watching channel 4 whenever I'm at home and hunting down a blank tape to sick in the VCR - I knew I hung onto it for a reason!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Goofy grins

How can I not smile when getting paid to have this much fun???

My passengers have been using a camera to film us during our flights and there's one consistent thing I've noticed when watching the videos. There is always a huge goofy grin on my face for most of the flight. Not just here and there like when my passenger squeals with delight or we hit a nice thermal but throughout the whole flight. It got me wondering if it's just the infectious energy from my passenger or if I rock the dorky smile when flying alone, so I took the camera out on my solo flight last night. Besides some big grins cheesing it up for the camera, it seems I have a much saner face when flying by myself. So the task at hand is to practice looking serious & professional while the camera's rolling on tandem and leave the 5-year-old-on-too-much-sugar look for just a few precious moments during the flight. I mean really, flying tandems is my job and you're not supposed to have *that* much fun at work, are you?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Flying for money

Getting paid to do something you love is even better than it sounds. Getting paid to share what you love & getting others hooked on it is even better! My tandem yesterday (seen woo-hoo-ing above) was having so much fun it was hard not to be just as excited as if it was my own first flight.

It's also interesting to see where my flying addiction is taking me. Paragliding has many directions you can pursue, and I'm passionate about almost all of them. At first my goals were simple - safe launches and landings. Then I wanted to stay up for a whole hour instead of doing sled rides, so I'd practice coring thermals and staying up in the air even when it was rough & I wanted to land. When I got better at that I wanted to try flying cross-country and thought maybe that would be my focus - flying far, making personal bests every time I flew and the overall thrill of adventure. After attending a maneuvers course I decided to try my hand at acro and would finish every flight off with a spiral or wingovers...until I went to the Rat Race and turned my attention to competition flying. The strategy and sense of accomplishment were addictive! Last summer when I started kicking the idea of becoming a tandem pilot around I wondered if I would ever decide which direction to go. Would I have to give up flying cross-country to be an instructor? Would I forget how to fly solo after doing a bunch of tandems in a row?

Not to worry. As my friend Julian in Ecuador says, "Everything is possible". While I'm still fairly new at taking people up and sometimes feel awkward flying solo again after so much focus on my tandem flying, as I gain more experience I see a greater possibility for improvement everywhere. A tandem pilot needs to be confident and choose better launch & landing conditions that they may fly in solo. That confidence & decision-making transfers over to solo flying and (hopefully) helps you become a better pilot overall. I'm excited to see where this flying road leads me, but I'm happy to say that here and now is better than I thought it would ever be.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Giving Back

While at the Rat Race I was amazed at the efforts of all the volunteers. People came on their personal vacation time from work to drive us around, be safety checkers, feed us and help out in every way. It made me think about something I heard at a Fun Run once. A runner said it was common in the race circuit to volunteer one time for every few races you do.

So this year I've stepped up and started doing more for my sport. In the past I've joined some work parties to clean up the roads to our launches and volunteered for a couple of hours here and there for certain events. But recently I've gotten a few opportunities to really give back. A few months ago I was offered the position of membership director for our local flying club. Volunteer board positions are notoriously hard to fill, and the girl in charge of this position was having trouble & they needed someone to step in. So I signed up, and through that found myself volunteering to help with our local fundraiser this past weekend too. At first I thought I would just be helping to organize & plan the event but since my tandem rating came through in time I got to help in an even funner way. Each year our club offers discounted tandem flights to the public & the pilots donate their time and the funds to the club. I was lucky enough to do 2 tandems yesterday and couldn't care less that I wasn't paid for them. The joy of bringing people into the air is amazingly fulfilling!

I'm looking forward to helping out more. There are many competitions this summer that attract a much higher level of flying than I'm at (yet) and I'm thinking about heading to some of them for a few days & giving back. Funny that it should be referred to as "giving" since you end up "getting" so much out of it.

Letting my tandem passenger take the controls :)