Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Girl Power!

I usually don't give much thought to gender roles when I'm out paragliding. Maybe it's because I've always hung out with guys, been "one of the guys", hey - I was even invited along on "the guys" road trip to Vegas once. At my home site girls are accepted as equals and there are no differences between us. Well, not until it's time to ask the boys to please stand downwind because we don't think that farting is nearly as funny as they do. I barely notice anymore when I'm the only girl out flying, although I'll admit it's fun on those rare days when all of us girl pilots outnumber the boys on launch. We usually celebrate with a laugh, acknowledge the moment...and move on.

But today something really cool happened that made me look at all this in a different light. I was walking over to my jeep carrying my glider and a vehicle stopped on the side of the road to watch. The windows slid down and I put my wing on the ground but I hesitated for a moment before going over to talk to them. To be honest I was cold & tired from an hour long flight in 5 degree weather and wasn't in the mood to explain yet again what paragliding was to some stranger. But I said hi anyway and the woman's reply took me by surprise.

"I just wanted to show my 4 year old daughter how it was a girl who landed under that parachute!" she said proudly. And sure enough, a wide-eyed little girl was sitting in the back in her car seat, staring at me in wonder.

I was speechless. I mean...really, what do you say to that? What do you do with that kind of responsibility thrown onto your shoulders, standing there on the side of the road with helmet hair, actually watching the process of a little girl turning you into a role model?

So I did what I could do. I walked up to the car window with a big smile and introduced myself. I told them all about paragliding, I showed mom where to park at the paragliding school & where to get the best view to watch us land. I told that little girl of course girls can fly, in fact I even take other people flying, and when mom's eyes lit up I told them all about tandems. By the smiles on both of their faces I think I said the right thing. And by the smile I still have on my face I think that family brought the same amount of wonder into my life today as I must have into theirs. Maybe even more.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A little dose of happiness

Lately I've noticed that I've lost some of my excitement about paragliding. It's cold outside & the flights are short. It's been easier to make excuses for not driving the 10 minutes for a 10 minute flight than to remember my usual excitement over any airtime at all. So today I decided to go fly, even if it meant I had to wear wool socks. And as life tends to do when you make the right decision, everything fell into place.

First a good friend called to meet me in the landing zone. I've been given the title of Membership Director of our local flying club for another year and he wanted to pay his dues, along with share some fun in the sky. The Site Director was on launch doing some maintenance & needed me to pick up some tools for him - he called right when I was about to leave the house & drive by the hardware store on the way over. As soon as I got to the landing zone a ride to the top was waiting for me, and I was pulled into a carload of enthusiasm as 4 of us were squished into the tiny backseat. The flight itself was smooth, calm...and soul-restoring. I didn't touch the brakes the whole 8 minutes (until I did some wingovers above the LZ, woohoo!), and after touching down I got to put on my instructor hat & guide a brand new pilot in over the radio to a stellar landing of his own.

Today was perfect. No records broken, or even any personal bests. Just a full day of reminders of why I love paragliding and a top-up on my tank of appreciation for the small things. Helping out, sharing the joy & embracing the tiny details in life makes every day amazing.