Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

It's curious to hear people talk about how fast time flies. For me, this year seemed to last forever. There was the almost two full months spent traveling and flying through Europe, then 3 months of flying tandems every day and then job hunting and setting up my new home in the fall, which extended until, well, I'm still looking for a job and constantly rearranging things in my place.

So the past year was definitely interesting and packed with adventures and change. Looking ahead to next year it seems 2012 will be filled with new beginnings and will take me wherever I let it. I'm not as interested in setting goals this year which is strange, as it's usually my favourite thing to do. I've changed a lot in my life over the last 6 months and am still working on things already put in motion, so my new years resolutions will include continuing on this path I've started upon.

2011's goals...well I entered 2 comps but neither were FAI sanctioned. I did place fairly well and through both of those did some good XC flying (which was goal #2). My personal paragliding business got pushed to the side due to all the tandems I flew for my instructor, although I did make a pretty cool website if I do say so myself!

2012...I'll be more eco-friendly, starting by recycling last year's resolutions, ha ha. I want to fly in the Canadian Nationals this year, plus hit a comp or 2 in the US. More XC flying is on the list again, but more importantly is working on my business, so between flying tandems and maybe doing some instruction it may be tricky to fit in. It's something to strive for though!

Have a fantastic start to the new year and hope to see more of you in 2012!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Flying

Every October there is a paragliding "fly-in" where pilots gather for a weekend of flying and socializing. There is a costume party on Saturday night, and depending on what they're wearing, some pilots even wear their costumes while paragliding. It's cold this time of year, and some of the costumes are not too many end up in the air with their creations.

A group of us go every year and dress in a theme, this year was "Road Kill". I was a dead frog. My costume was covered in blood, guts and tire tracks so I didn't wear it flying, but the next day I put on my frog head (complete with brain squishing out if you look closely) and had a little flight.

It always seems to be more about seeing your friends again than the actual flying, which is just fine by me. Friends are what makes life so amazing, and the more excuses to hang out with them the better!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Winter Getaway

It's been an amazing summer.

120+ tandems in 3 months, making fantastic new friends and a big move have all made this a summer to remember. It's time to look ahead to the future and right now, that means deciding where and how to travel this winter. My non-flying friends (I do have a few!) are starting to talk about getting away to Vegas, and the paraglider pilots are beginning to book their flights to Valle de Bravo, Mexico which collects pilots from around the world from November through January.

As someone who loves travel, my biggest dilemma is having to choose if I should go back to somewhere I've been and know I love (Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil?) or somewhere new (Columbia, Chile, Hawaii?). Or do I face reality and put my nose to the grindstone, find a full-time job near home and work straight through til the spring? My hope was to go south and fly tandems through the winter, but generally the money you make when living that kind of life is enough to get by while traveling, but not enough keep paying rent back home.

Debt vs Sanity...which will win this year???



Get a "real" job?

Thursday, October 6, 2011


If you were reading this blog when I was competing at the Rat Race you may remember the post about the TV crew that was around filming us. Well here's the finished product!:

It's cool to see a video that explains a paragliding competition so accurately. Well mostly. There are not many of us who look or act like the long-haired guy they interview but they got most of the other stuff right. I'm beyond excited to have gotten my first time into goal on video...and LOVE the fact that they refer to me as a "young pilot". And they say Hollywood is cruel...ha ha.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rain days

Since I only usually post about stuff that happens on sunny days, I thought I'd switch it up and show you how I spend some rainy ones.

Today started rainy, then it was sunny for 2 hours, then it rained again. So I actually took 2 tandems in the break but my wing still got wet from folding it in the damp grass. Gliders are like tents, you can't pack them up wet. So I'm drying my paraglider at home right now and decided, well, what better way to dry it out than to build a fort?

There was rain forecast a couple of days ago but the morning started off dry, so I decided to go for a hike up a small, nearby mountain. This hike had the craziest switchbacks I'd ever seen, with steep inclines, steep declines, and lots of stairs.


And more stairs

Who needs a bike? "Single track" for people

Rain started when I got back to the trailhead

The other thing I'm doing which I'm not going to show you because it's far too messy is unpacking. I recently moved into my own place as my boyfriend and I have split up. This happened a couple of months ago and things are still good between us which is great, because he's a paraglider pilot too and this is such a small community. So with the end of the relationship as well as the approaching end of tandem season there are a lot of changes going on in my little world. Thanks to all of you for sticking with me through this journey so far...who knows where I'll end up next!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weekend Getaway

It's been like the movie "Groundhog Day" over here - wake up...go to the landing dinner...go to sleep. I'm not complaining at all, getting paid to do something you love anyway is one of the best things you can hope for. Therefore, I'm living the Good Life.

But every once in a while you need a little change. So over the long weekend a group of us went on a little paragliding road trip to a beautiful spot that overlooks the water and has a launch 2000 meters over it. The plan, for those who don't know what SIV is, is to fly over the water and then try to collapse your wing in many different ways, and do tricks, and above all have fun! You wear a life vest in case one of those collapses doesn't fix properly and you have to throw your back-up parachute. We have an instructor in a boat guiding you through all sorts of scenarios and ready to rescue anyone who goes swimming.

I was really excited to go this year to help my friend perform a d-bag launch. The d-bag (deployment bag) hangs off my tandem with the passenger's paraglider all packed up inside it, then with a tug on the quick release buckles...well...why don't you watch my video instead.

Here's the link:

Hope you all have a great weekend!
xx Martina

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Flying Fit

In my past life (i.e. before getting my tandem certification) I was a personal fitness trainer. It seemed like a good job choice since I could work for myself and schedule my work hours around paragliding. However flying took over & I rarely train clients at the gym anymore. This means I rarely train myself anymore, unless of course it's raining.

My perspective on what "fitness" means has changed too, as I continue to feed my flying addiction. There is the literal flying fitness level - being able to do the little things effortlessly like carry your glider to launch or back to your car and running off launch without pulling a muscle (hey - I've seen it happen!). Personally I'm failing at this right back started protesting Thursday morning from abusing it too much. Like getting dehydrated (my chiropractor said this also depletes the fluid in your spinal column which leaves you prone to back injuries...makes sense), and then throwing my tandem gear around without using the proper "bend your knees and lift" technique. I also went on a hike and fly with some friends...they hiked all the way up and I joined them until the halfway point since I volunteered to be the driver this time. It's sad to think that fun little hike could be the reason my back went out, but a good reminder to take care of yourself every day so you can prevent stuff like this happening.

The other side of being "flying fit" involves more of what I've mentioned as personal goals in the past...having a high physical & mental level of 'fitness' to be focused and stay in the air for a longer time. I think this side has really taken a back seat with all the tandems I've been flying this summer, but that's ok. It just means I'm going to have to "train harder" next time I go for a solo flight and want to fly XC again.

On a personal note, I'm moving at the end of this month to a new place. It's a little farther from my local flying site, but up on a small hill of it's own so I'll be able to practice the "fit" part of my goal and go for little hikes around my new neighbourhood. With a constant training schedule during the fall I should be able to go hiking soon without always being at the back of the line!

Halfway up the hike with my friends who flew off while I drove the car back around to the landing zone (on the other side of this mountain). Launch is still at the top of this peak (the trail zig zags up the face).

Friday, July 29, 2011


People warned me about this. When I started flying tandems, pilots started telling stories about "someone" they knew who ended up never flying solo any more, or getting sick of flying, or...or....or a bunch of other worst-case scenarios because they were jealous that I was going to get paid to go play in the sky (at least that's my theory, ha ha).

My case of tandem-itis isn't too bad and is easily curable. It has to do with switching gears...let me explain for the non-pilots.

Paragliding wings are rated from beginner (big, fat stable wings that rarely collapse and practically fly themselves) to competition (skinny twitchy wings that have great performance but need constant attention in the air). Wings are now rated from A (beginner) through D (performance). Most tandem gliders, including mine, are rated "B", which means it's pretty stable but has good performance. My solo wing is a "C", which although is only one level higher is a noticeable difference. Also, the heavier you are on your wing the less it moves around, so on a tandem you tend to cut through most of the bumps in the air.

What this all means is that I'm so used to flying around on my stable tandem wing, heavily loaded and really only spending 10-30 minutes in the air, that yesterday when I went flying in slightly turbulent conditions on my lightly loaded intermediate wing...I got spooked. Not a lot, but more than I needed to be. Every little twitch & rustle concerned me and I couldn't figure out why. With over 100 flights this year you'd think I could just cruise through any conditions the weather gods threw at me, yet here I was whimpering at the smallest bumps.

After an hour of airtime I landed and contemplated on what just happened. My conclusion is that since I try to adapt to change fairly quickly I also tend to move on or 'forget' my actions in the past. For instance, after a day or 2 at the competition in Oregon, I got into cross-country flying mode & was staying up in rougher conditions than I would normally. When I came back & started flying tandems, I switched it off & went back into boating around looking for smooth air to keep my passengers from puking. But when trying to fly back in thermic conditions yesterday I was stuck in a tandem headspace and had lost that confidence so recently gained from flying in rougher air.

Knowledge is the first step I suppose. My goal is to be a well-rounded pilot, which means being able to glide effortlessly between tandems, solo, acro, cross-country...whatever the case may be. My transitions definitely need work, but at least now I know what I need to focus on. Today looks like a good opportunity - my friend may have a tandem for me and then after I can free-fly and as the wind is forecast to pick up later there may be a chance to practice some acro. Nothing like trying to fix everything at once!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Tandem Launch
copyright -

Looking out the window at the rainy sky it's hard to believe that just last Saturday we flew 20 tandems in one day. We're supposed to fly 5 more today so I'm sitting here willing cloud base to rise higher than the mountain so we can have some fun in the sky and introduce more people to this amazing sport.

One of the most common questions people ask about tandems is about the take-off. "Don't your legs get all tangled up when you run off the mountain together?" Luckily for me, a new paragliding student has a partner who is an amazing photographer and she came along one day to snap some pics. The one at the top of this post is just fantastic and does a better job showing how it works than I can attempt to explain with all my hand gestures and lots jumping around. As you can see the passenger is in front, and as they start running the wing comes overhead and we run off in perfect harmony...ideally. The 'tangled legs' come in to play if the passenger stops running before we've left the ground, or even worse if they sit down (yes, it happens!). But as you can see from the photo, the take-off run is smooth and tangle-free...a perfect beginning to an amazing experience.

Life is pulling me in many directions right now, but the one constant in my life is flying. Paragliding offers so much - quiet meditation when you're alone on a smooth flight, sharing and teaching when taking someone with you, or a good mental workout when you're trying to figure out where all the lift is that day and trying to optimize your air time. You get the benefit of hanging out with friends before and after the flight, yet get alone time while soaring through the sky. As my own world is changing all around me, I'm grateful for the amazing gift of flight I've been offered and what it brings to me. I hope you all have something that creates the same kind of joy in your life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rat Race - Day Seven

I am EXHAUSTED! Usually paragliding competitions are held for 7 days and they only expect about 4 to be flyable due to weather. We flew every day (except that one windy day) and my flying endurance has been pushed to a new level. Wow.

Today was a cat's cradle course around the valley landing at a local winery so that retrieve would be easy for the last day. I had to spend a lot of time over at Rabies Ridge again, we had 3 points to hit over there and I flew out to land early about 4 times because of some nasty rough patches of air. But each time I left I would end up finding a really nice, gentle thermal that would take me up high and I'd go for one more turnpoint. On my last low save of the day my friend Vikram joined me and helped map the thermal that took us high enough to get to goal together. It was so much fun flying with a friend - we were hollering at each other as we flew into goal.

Overall standings: I was 4th woman out of 10 and 18th overall out of 77 in my wing category. I'm still a little overwhelmed I made goal 2 days in a row and 3 times total this whole week after coming here for years and never making it farther than about 15 km along the course. Hopefully I can retain all the skills & knowledge I received this week and keep flying well at home.

Rat Race - Day Six

I did it again....GOAL!!!

Today's task took us over to Donato's, a local pilot's home/Landing Zone that's been a personal goal of mine to reach one day as the locals always talk about flying over there. The course was 22km from cylinder-to-cylinder and I think I was the 11th one in out of the 22 who made it in. It was a pretty good day for points so I'm sitting in the top 20 overall right now and I think I'm second woman, which is a far cry from 2nd from the bottom where I usually end up.

One of the girl's on my team threw her reserve parachute today, right when it was my turn to launch. Someone called about the deployment over the radio and although her ride down looked great it was really unnerving to watch. She threw it in a spot that's known to be fairly rough (I've seen a couple of reserve rides there over the last few years) and she supposedly landed in the only good spot around on the back of the mountain. I felt better when I heard her voice on the radio saying she was fine, but later heard they were taking her in to get checked out. One of the guys in the Race also threw today, I saw him at HQ last night so he's fine but haven't heard how my girl is.

So today was full of mixed emotions - ecstatic to make goal again but sad since I was supposed to make it there with my team mate. I did get greeted when I landed at goal by 2 other good friends who made it there first and we couldn't stop hugging & wouldn't be the same to make it to goal & not know anyone.

Alex and I beside ourselves (and each other!) at goal

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rat Race - Day Five

This one's for Veronica....the Dreaded Rabies Ridge got me again!

It was a tough day weather-wise with sharp-edged bullet thermals & no way to get high unless you had the cajones to cross to Burnt ridge low & scratch out of there. I never got high enough over launch to get to Burnt at a height that felt safe to me so I went on glide directly across the valley to Rabies with a couple of friends. We spread out to attack the ridge side-by-side so if one of us found lift the other two could also get saved, but we hit that invisible windshield right in front of it & slid down to the Hunter's landing zone. I found the 3 of us a little thermal over the LZ but the winds had picked up & the thermal just pushed us back towards Burnt low so we had to admit defeat. We weren't the only ones though, it ended up being a low-scoring day due to a lot of pilots bombing out & not many making goal (I think only 12 did).

The task was pretty exciting though - the "baby" Sprint group's task was 93km! It was a cat's cradle going to Mount Isabella behind Rabies Ridge, then back to the mountain behind launch, and then a pass over Burnt ridge. We were supposed to do the course twice then land at Longsword Vineyard, and the Race group had to do it 4 times so everyone was going to fly together. The cylinders around the Sprint's group were huge though (6 km around the 2 big mountains) so the course only ended up being around 30 km when you flew it cylinder to cylinder. We all got a big adrenaline spike looking at the task board in the morning though!

It was disappointing to not even get the first turnpoint today. There are a few of us who have made goal for the first time on different days this week and we're all pumped to do it again. With the weather and conditions switching every day you can really see who the best pilots are and it's fantastic getting to fly with the top guys. Both Nick Greece and Matt Beechinor flew their whole course plus did a tandem with local camera crews right before or after flying their races. That's a level of endurance beyond me right now, between the physical & mental workout of even trying to fly the task I can barely crawl to the keg at the end of the day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rat Race - Day Four

Not much to report today. The wind picked up progressively after the first group (Race) launched, and after most of the second group (Sprint) launched they cancelled the Sprint task. The Race continued for a while longer but was eventually stopped.

That's it. The winds are still blowing but are supposed to die off by tomorrow bringing those cooler temperatures & maybe some instability. Time to go put aloe on my sunburn...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rat Race - Day Three

The TV crew interviewing the organizer of the Rat Race

It was forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far and I'm hoping that the weatherman is right and things will cool down a little. It hit at least 35 C according to one thermometer I saw. For flying here that translates into a high pressure day, which essentially puts a lid over the whole sky squishing the thermals down and compressing all pilots into a zone 1000 feet high over launch. Not a lot of room when there are over 80 of you in the air at once!

The film crew who caught me getting into goal were on launch today and right after the pilots meeting they came over to interview me. They asked some good questions and I think I answered about 80% of them fairly professionally. The other 20% of the time I was a total spazz so hopefully they edit it enough to keep me from looking like a complete dork, ha ha. It was kind of funny, every time I turned around on launch there they were - filming me hanging with the girls, setting up my gear, and then they followed me all the way through the launch line. Just before I took off the camera man ran to the edge to get footage of me taking off and flying over him. Luckily I had a good launch and climbed out pretty quickly.

Only 4 people made goal today and no, I wasn't one of them. It was hard flying - only 31 pilots out of 83 got beyond the 5 km minimum, and only 17 of them got into double digits for distance. It was challenging in a fun way though, I had a great crossing to Burnt, a few low saves & just missed the Rabies turn point. The guy in front of me who dove in to the cylinder ended up with the same points as me so that's a nice validation of my decision to not push in there low and potentially end up in a tree or outlanding on the ridge, which happened to about 5 people today.

Overall I'm doing pretty well, definitely my best results so far. I'm 5th out of 10 women (CJ is beating me by 1 point!) and 27 out of 83 over all. There are still 4 days of flying left, plenty of time to accumulate more knowledge and put it to use.

My view of the first turn point (Burnt Ridge). Lots of gliders below me still at this point!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rat Race - Day Two

Goal beer!

Well I've completely redeemed myself from yesterday...I made goal today! Todays task was harder & longer than yesterday with a lower inversion ceiling, and I still managed 3rd place woman and 14th out of 83! And if anyone doesn't believe me, it's all documented on TV.

A tv program (Oregon Field Guide? I think) is here to do a documentary-style show on paragliding. There was talk this morning of the tv crew wanting to fly the race on tandem while filming and explaining how it works, strategy, etc. I had forgotten all about it until landing at goal. After touching down & walking towards the other pilots packing up, one of my friends recognized me & started cheering. I let out a "woohoo! first time at goal!" and as I turned to put my wing down there was a tv camera in my face. So embarrassing, especially when they interviewed me right away & I was babbling a million miles a minute. But still cool that my first time in goal is well documented.

The flight itself was about 30 km and for those who know the area the task was Woodrat-Rabies-Burnt-Rabies and then a new landing zone near Purcell (in the valley on the way to Applegate Lake). With each valley crossing I was sure I'd sink out, but just kept repeating my mantra of the day "Never Leave Lift". It was really hard to battle my natural impatient instincts of just flying on when I feel I'm "high enough". I have to thank Sandy who I overheard on launch...he'd said that if he got over 6000 feet he would go directly to goal from Rabies without stopping to tank up at Woodrat. Little tidbits like that are invaluable and the reason I fly here with my vario set to feet (even though the course is measured in metric). I actually got my best climb of the day right after the last turnpoint (actually over China Gulch) and when my altitude read over 6200 ft I held my breath, stepped on my speed bar (which I had a good talking to before launch) and flew down the valley towards goal.

Of course my camera batteries died as soon as I tried to get a picture (boo!) but that's the worst thing that happened to me all day. I think I can handle the disappointment :)

Rat Race - Day One

Stupid stupid stupid.


On the bright side, I got all my stupid mistakes out on the first day & have 6 more flying days to redeem myself.

I wasn't even rushed on launch. I was one of the last people to take-off because I wanted to just have a good flight & make goal on the first day and not get caught up in the "racing" and bomb out. Had a perfect take off, found a thermal right away and took it to 700 meters/2000 feet over launch. After topping out I noticed I was kind of uncomfortable in my seat & tried to grab my stirrup to adjust, but that didn't help. It felt like something was digging into my was my speedbar. Somehow I hadn't noticed that my leg loop had been threaded through the first step of my bar when I took off and now there was nothing I could do about it. Well, I briefly considered undoing one leg strap at a time to release it but falling out of my harness sounded like a worse option than flying around uncomfortably.

By now I had lost some height from losing focus but thought I was still high enough to make the first crossing. I hadn't realized how much I relied on my speedbar until I hit some massive sink & couldn't speed up to get out of there. That, and there was no way I was going to arrive high enough at the next ridge without my bar. So boo-hoo I landed at the field below take-off and chalked it up to experience. At least I'd gotten out of the start cylinder, and I was interested in downloading my flight to see what my flight looked like anyway.

That brings me to my gps. Somehow while fiddling with it I changed a very important setting. It must have happened yesterday since it was working perfectly in France. The way pilots are scored in a comp is that each person flies with a gps, is given a course to fly and then the tracklog is recorded on the gps so the scorekeepers can see that you hit all the points. The tracklog "drops" a point on the map every few seconds & you get a little trail. Somehow I changed my setting to record a point every 30 hours instead of 3 seconds so there wasn't even a flight to download!

Things could be worse. I could've made goal & not had the gps record it. The beer keg could've run out. I could've ended up in a tree (but that guy still did better than me today). Looking at the scores, a lot of people seemed to have bombed out within the 5km start cylinder so I'm not alone at the bottom of the list. And the best thing about being in last place (with 40 other people) is that there's nowhere to go but up!

Scores will be posted here for the Sprint:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rat Race - Practice Day

Life has continued to be an adventure since coming home from Europe. We got home around 11pm on Sunday night, and then Monday afternoon while I was sipping tea, doing laundry & planning on doing nothing but recovering from jet lag I got a call from Jim saying to come over to Woodside to fly a tandem for him. The passengers ended up bailing, but over the next 2 days I did 3 tandems, including one (see link below) with a new student. You can hear Jim on the sidelines calling at him not to sit down, and the student's wife laughing at him:

As for the flying, the Rat Race is split into 2 groups this year - the "Race" for the big dogs and the "Sprint" for those newer to competition who want a shorter course. We tried a practice task yesterday to see how it would all work - there was rain in the valley but the Race group launched anyway. Shortly after they cancelled the task for the Sprint pilots but some still chose to fly down, and the Race task was stopped soon after as the winds started gusting from the passing showers.

The organizers of this event are continuing with the mentoring program they offer every year and have educational talks scheduled each night. I'm hoping to learn a lot from all the super pilots who are flying here this week.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ozone Chabre Open - Last Day and a Task!

Midway through my last flight in Provence

Hooray! We got to fly on the last day of our competition. It was looking dicey in the morning as the wind was already starting to blow, but our meet organizers were determined to get us a flight...well all of them except for Mark who said he would 'eat his shorts' if a task was called and was forced to do exactly that at the party Friday night...

With a strong-ish wind setting up we went to a site called Buc which is a lovely west-facing ridge across from Sederon. We had to wait for the sun to reach launch so most pilots hiked up, and we were lucky enough to have our wings driven to the top. Soon a 33km task was called with goal back at HQ and as soon as the launch window opened pilots filled the air. It's kind of crazy when you're used to a "busy" day flying in Canada being a dozen people and to all of a sudden be faced with about 90 other pilots in the air.

I was lucky enough to get a good thermal near launch & climbed up & away from the madness. My personal goals today included (1) not sinking out; (2) trying to stick with a gaggle instead of getting impatient & flying off too early on my own and (3) flying further than I did on the first task. Oh, and not to have the lowest score amoung Team Canaf because we made a small wager that the team member with the lowest points of the day had to buy the beer.

So for a little over 18 km I was able to meet all of my personal goals. I did end up flying away from the gaggle and almost dirted, but a low save over my planned landing zone (the light patch you see near the bottom right of the picture) got me back up high enough to make it to the next little valley. 18 km isn't a really long flight in paragliding (especially in a competition) so I was sure that my wallet was going to be a little lighter back at HQ. But while waiting on the side of the road for the retrieve bus I was passed by 3 vans full of paragliders, and as they passed I saw 2 of my team mates. That made the wait a LOT more tolerable, hee hee. It turns out a lot of people got foiled by the shade and my flight was good enough that I ended up having the 2nd highest score out of the (10) women that day, a personal best for me!

Our Venezuelan team mate won the day in our group by landing 1km from goal (go Emilio!) and the day's flying was soon forgotten as the party got going and the raffle started. Ozone had donated tons of prizes including the most coveted...a crispy new paraglider. I was so close - they pulled my name right after they gave the wing to someone else! I happily ran to the front anyway to accept my prize from the mayor who was having fun pulling names from the hat. In proper French tradition kisses were dispensed along with a "C'est bon!" from his honour when I remembered the right amount of cheek turns (3 kisses if you're in Provence, FYI). I proudly walked out with my cozy fleece beach blanket, which joined my other prize of an Ozone wallet. Chrissi & I had both won prizes for our walk down the mountain on Thursday and got a hilarious speech from Jockey about being abandoned orphans on the mountain.

We're now homeward-bound to rest up for a few days, do some laundry & pack everything up again for 10 days at the Rat Race Competition in Oregon. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends again but already miss the new ones I made here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ozone Chabre Open - Day Five (no task)

Another day of excessive wind! So far on this trip we experienced the "boora" wind in Croatia, the "foehn" in Germany and now the "mistral' in France. They're calling it a petite Mistral because it's only blowing 40 km/hr instead of 100 so I guess we're lucky. We sat on launch until about 4pm today until they gave us the option of going back to HQ or hiking to a nearby ridge. Chrissi & I decided to go down (the ones who went to the other site didn't end up flying either), but we made our descent a great adventure.

A handful of us were going to have to wait for the next round of shuttle buses, so Chrissi & I decided to hike down with our gliders to the main road. We saw 2 guys heading down ahead of us, and since we'd have to wait an hour anyway it made sense to meet the bus at the bottom. It ended up being an hour and a half hike down! The 2 guys in front met us about half way down and gallantly offered to take our wings since they'd sent theirs down in a van. Turns out they were in the Navy & hiking around with heavy packs is nothing for them so we quickly handed over our gear and made some new friends.

We've made the most of our no fly days - yesterday I got to sit in a new pod harness that hasn't hit the market yet (a prototype Advance Impress 3) and tonight we got 2 other sneak peaks. First, Russ Ogden from Ozone did an awesome slide show/Q&A on the process of designing gliders, and then Jockey Sanderson gave us a look at the trailer for his Security in Flight 2 video. Very cool stuff in the paragliding world!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ozone Chabre Open - Day Four (no task)

We were a lot more hopeful today. The clouds weren't as thick this morning, and as soon as the 9:30 briefing was over we were sent off to a different launch in Sederon as it has a better North facing launch. An hour later we arrived at launch and our earlier optimism waivered - cloudbase was about 100 meters over launch and actually touching down in places.

Looks good - you go first!

It was still early, not even noon yet so we huddled for warmth & waited. A task was set back towards Laragne but we couldn't start until the clouds lifted enough to cross over the ridge to the first turnpoint. The skies cleared a bit so a start time was announced, but 5 minutes before take-off the task committee put us on hold. There was a huge dark cloud dumping rain on the task line. With this news we sat down & ate our creative lunches and watched the winds pick up on launch. The task was eventually cancelled but pilots were free to fly in the valley in front of launch instead of driving down.

Chrissi & I braving the June weather

Chrissi got a nice flight, but Derek & I waited a bit too long and the winds kept increasing and yanking pilots off launch, so we rode down in the warmth and luxury of the shuttle bus. Rumour is about a dozen pilots flew the task anyway, so if the weather ends up repeating itself tomorrow we're likely to have a similar task. We've only got 2 more days of flying here before heading back towards Munich and home to Canada...time flies even when you don't!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ozone Chabre Open - Day Three (no task)

It's raining again. I feel like a real comp pilot now - it seems every time there's a flying competition anywhere in the world it rains, gets blown-out or some crazy rare weather phenomenon rears it's head.

So there's a bit of gloom around our place today. I'm bummed for 2 is that I was really looking forward to flying again today and improving on what I did yesterday - you always seem to do better if you can fly a few days in a row and build on what you learned. Secondly, I found out I only flew about 9 km and not the 12km it looked like at download yesterday. Not a big deal but enough to add salt to the wound of another rain day. Sigh.

But we get free pizza & paella tonight courtesy of the competition and we are in the land of cheap yet delicious wine, so things can only get better. And Team Canaf's standing will definitely improve this week as we all sat in on Jockey's talk on thermalling this morning after the soggy weather briefing. Hooray, there's a ray of optimism making it's way through the grey skies of Laragne!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ozone Chabre Open - Day Two, Task 1

Looking like a great day to fly.

For the first time in a few days we woke up to the sound...of it NOT raining. Yay! The weather forecast at the morning meeting actually sounded better than it looked today. The clouds were building all around us but the prognosis was for the clouds to have a ceiling on top so they wouldn't turn into monsters. With that we loaded up in the buses and hung out on launch for an hour or so waiting for all the pilots to arrive. A task of close to 40 km was announced with a start time of 12:30. The great thing about this "competition" is that it's a learning venue and the organizers discuss how & why they choose each turn point, how the task may change if the weather does, and also the best way to fly the course. Everyone was optimistic about the day even though the clouds near turn point were starting to grow. At 12:25 they put the task on hold and removed the 2nd turn point to shorten the course to just over 28 km and avoid the ominous clouds in that direction. Fifteen minutes later the race started and paragliders started peeling off launch. It was awesome to watch and there wasn't any hurry to get in the thick of it since the task was an "elapsed start", which means each pilot is timed from the point they reach the start cylinder and you're not racing against everyone at the same time.

By the time Derek, Chrissi and I launched, the clouds had grown & were starting to shade things over a bit. I flew towards the first turn point even though my rational mind kept telling me to fly the other direction, as I usually don't head over to the dark side...

Heading towards Entry/First Turn point (dark peak straight ahead). Scary!

The second I reached the first turn point I turned & fled back into the sun. This was now the crux of the course...a long glide to the next point across the valley. The trick was to fly up high, as close to the clouds as you dared and then connect with the sunny ridge that would lead you to the goal field. I landed about half way across (getting around 12 kms total around the 29 km course) which I'm happy with. I stayed in some thermals that normally would have sent me running away when I hit the sides of them and had a nice, safe landing near the main road. Actually, I thought the landing was going to be the most adrenaline-filled part of the day! As I was setting up in a nice field away from powerlines & trees (which ate 7 gliders yesterday) I saw 2 German Shephard-looking dogs running around. After touching down I immediately left the field & crossed the road to pack up so they wouldn't attack me. They came running over anyway...because they wanted some pats on the head. Seriously, they would barely leave me alone to pack up and kept pressing their heads on my leg the way dogs do who want some lovin'. One of them even walked with me all the way to the main road (a 10 minute walk) and waited with me until the retrieve bus came. Paragliding in Provence is turning out to be even better than I hoped.

Attack Dog (only if you don't pet him)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ozone Chabre Open - Day One


That's about all I can say about today. The day was called early, at least that's what we thought David said as we could barely hear him over the rain pounding on the roof of the HQ tent! Tomorrow looks a lot more promising though, with the weather improving all week. So the 3 of us rooming together spent the day reading, drinking coffee and resting up for the big xc to come starting tomorrow.

There was talk this morning of a local amateur astronomer coming to HQ to do a talk/picture show this afternoon, so if it's not too cold & rainy we may go check it out. It's going to be hard to leave our room though - it's been such a lovely, lazy Sunday and we've all turned into sloths! We may need some of that famous French coffee to peel us off the couches today.

Au revoir until tomorrow...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ozone Chabre Open - Practice Day

Chabre launch, Laragne France

We woke up to a very grey practice day here in Laragne for the Ozone Chabre Paragliding Open. Nevertheless we got ourselves organized and ready to be at HQ by 9:30 for the pilots meeting, hopeful that the sun might come out long enough to get at least a quick intro flight at this new site. I had quite a bad headache so popped an ibuprofen before leaving our place, and on the drive over could see cloud base was about 5 meters off the ground so took a couple more, figuring there was no point in having a screaming headache AND not being able to fly.

At the meeting, organizer Brian read us the weather report (which actually didn't sound quite so bad with his English accent). "Forecast - cloudy...with more clouds as the day goes on...with embedded CuNims...oh, and a dose of hail for good measure". A lot of booing ensued and we voted to hang around for 15 minutes before calling the day off completely. You know...just in case. Sure enough the clouds parted right above us & people started getting excited. Maybe 100 pilots believing that the weather will improve can actually make it happen!

Brian & Mark then told us that even though they were 95% sure we wouldn't be able to fly we could go up to launch & "have a look". Ten minutes later we were all in the shuttle buses making our way up. Once at launch, pilots immediately started prepping their kits and laying claim to their launch space while Derek & I looked around trying to figure out where the landing zone was. Another newbie to Laragne was getting a site intro so I listened in, and the local kept repeating, "if you're going to land at the bail-out make sure you don't set up too far downwind. Lots of pilots end up in those trees". Shakespeare would have called that foreshadowing...

Soon the meet organizers were also on launch & gave us an unofficial task - 17 km, 2 or 3 turnpoints, just to make sure we had all our gear sorted out and short enough to get us on the ground again before the storm came in. To be honest, the weather at this point looked beautiful with blue skies and puffy white clouds. The first 20 or so pilots launched & besides a couple of lucky ones most of them sunk to the bailout field...with one landing in a tree right beside the field. Derek was flying/landing in that first bunch, but luckily (?) for me I was duffing launches all over the place and gave myself a time out to figure out why. It was like I was drunk or something...or maybe the 3 Advil I'd taken less than an hour ago had kicked in? Sheesh, that was it!

After a little break and seeing pilots were now thermalling a bit over launch, I had a nice takeoff and joined a few other gliders out front. I got 200 meters over, but was still feeling a little off so figured I'd head out to the bailout with everyone else and call it a day. We weren't getting scored today anyway so it was an easy decision. As I was coming in to land another pilot was close behind me with big-ears on, so I was surprised when 30 seconds after touching down that the red wing hadn't landed yet. I heard a shriek and then - crash!!!- right into the trees beside the landing field again. She was ok and could easily climb to the ground, but it looked like it would take a long time to rescue the wing from the tree. Then as we were piling into one of the vans to go back to HQ, another wing came in really low over the trees that lined the road into the field. We all started shouting as it looked like he was going to land right on/into the van, but he turned at the last minute to land right in front of another tree! We helped get him out as paragliders rained into the landing zone. The "task" had been stopped as the clouds were now moving in so everyone was landing at once, and sure enough the skies opened about 40 minutes later and gave us (well are still giving us!) an impressive lightening show.

Spot the glider in the trees!

Looks like more rain for tomorrow, but rumour has it Monday will be flyable. Despite the tree magnetism today, a handful of people made goal or got close and this really does seem like a great site to fly. Hopefully everyone will take away their lessons learned during the brief window today and the rest of the competition will involve a lot less vegetation :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A sunny, happy ride up to launch.

Every time I show up at a new mountain here in Europe I'm sure I've found paradise. Having perfect weather helps a lot, but even just from a paragliding perspective I understand why there are so many more pilots in Europe than Canada or the US. Cable-cars up the mountain, huge grassy take-off areas covered in yellow & purple wildflowers and a bar at almost every landing field.

With the hundreds of pilots in the air you might expect chaos, but so far we've only seen one crazy event. A pilot was flying about 100 meters over launch in Slovenia when we heard a big "THWACK!" Usually by the time you look up the collapse is over (the noise is the wing snapping back open after a wingtip folds in) but this time we could see something funky was going on. It looked like he tried to fix his mishap with too much brake and the wing was trying to stall (you could see it starting to go into a horseshoe shape) and then he started rotating and his risers got all twisted up. It was all very plain to see since by now he was maybe 50 meters over launch and everyone was yelling at him to throw his reserve parachute. He did, it opened quickly and he ended up landing back on the take-off! Everything turned out fine - even the 'diaper bag' from his reserve landed next to him - and we've been really lucky to have seen nothing worse than some shaky student take-offs and downwind landings.

Since we've been exploring new sites our flights have been a bit shorter since we don't know the areas too well and are hesitant to go on a cross-country flight anywhere. Now we've found a fantastic spot & tomorrow will be our 3rd day flying here. We're getting to know the mountain a lot better with each flight so if the winds cooperate tomorrow we'll stretch our to speak. Heh heh.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wild & Beautiful

Another gorgeous flying site in Austria

Traveling thru the Alps in May is least this year it has been. Sunny skies, no crowds and of course excellent food! The one problem for paraglider pilots is the lack of open cable cars. Most of them are closed for repairs this time of year and don't re-open until June when the masses over here start their holidays and come to hike in the mountains. So I've had to be more creative finding launches this year instead of relying on flying sites I've been to before. Between the internet and the best TV channel *ever* which cycles through the webcams sitting on top of all the ski resorts we've been able to find some new spots to try out.

It's through this method that we ended up at Wildschonau, which from my rusty German translates into Wild & Beautiful, or Natural and Pretty, or something of the sort. It's a close drive to the home of our Bavarian friends (where we're currently staying) and has a cable car that conveniently reopened last week. The "town" is adorable, a little ski village nestled in a valley where the fields are overflowing with purple and yellow wildflowers. The launch isn't too high but the flight we managed a couple of days ago restored us in a way most people probably only experience after a day at the spa. We were in the sky for an hour flying around under puffy clouds, down low over cows with clanging bells around their neck and dodging helicopters delivering supplies around the valley to homes that have no roads to service them. Well, the last item we could've done without but it added to the excitement!

Unfortunately after 3 weeks of beautiful weather, we finally woke up to rain and now have to wait a day or two for this weather system to pass. With a good internet connection and a bag full of big German pretzels on the table I think getting through this will be tolerable.

View of the landing zone from the hotel bar

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Looking right down on some castle ruins while paragliding - Tolmin, Slovenia

I'm taking an afternoon off from flying. Those who know me may question my sanity, but those who know me best understand that this only child needs alone time to recharge. So I sent Derek up the mountain and am hoarding the laptop all to myself to finally write a blog update (despite the crackly internet service) and to meditate on my trip so far.

Flying has, once again, been a learning experience. Our first flight was at a site we'd been to before in Slovenia so we weren't too concerned about any paragliding surprises. What we forgot to consider was that in the past we'd flown there in the mellow fall air, and we were now standing on launch looking at full-on spring conditions. After our first few flights we realized that waiting until midday to launch with everyone else was just silly. Both of us had flown some early spring currents at home, but neither of us were ready to jump right into butt-kicking, roller-coaster thermals. So we started launching earlier which helped ease us into midday, and went for soul-restoring flights at the end of the day to end everything on a good note.

Which leads us to right now. Today we're at a new site in Austria we've never flown before, and once again we found ourselves taking off in prime thermal production time and kept our flights shorter than usual. Derek went up to try a late afternoon tour of the valley, but I'm content to wait until morning, when you can be sure I'll be one of the first ones on the bus. One thing for sure is that we're having a fantastic time - we're both suntanned and learning more each day. We still have a month left with nothing to do but fly, so hopefully I'll be posting some great flight reports here soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Europe 2011 so far...

My boyfriend and I are in Europe right now, finishing up week 2 of our 6-week paragliding adventure. It's been fantastic so far, especially since every time we check on the weather back home the forecast is for rain. Over here we're already getting sunburnt!

So far we've had about 5 flights this week, which were much needed after the first 10 days of visiting with friends & family. was kind of nice being on a 'normal' vacation for a bit, the kind where you don't base your day (and mood!) on what the winds are doing but instead go sight-seeing and eat way too much local food.

I'll post some flight reports & pictures soon, right now it's time to go flying again!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday...and then some!

The view from my paraglider today (or...another reason I'm addicted to this sport).

It was a great Friday, and Saturday was fabulous too! Having gone to a Catholic elementary school, Good Friday was always a solemn occasion. We would go to church, talk about Jesus dying and the worst part was we had to eat fish for dinner! Of course that would make Easter Sunday all the better as I got to wear a pretty dress and eat lots of chocolate.

But this year my "Easter" was on Good Friday, with the celebration continuing through the weekend. Friday's flight started out pretty rough but I kept repeating my mantra, "relax", and soon beefed up my bump tolerance. I followed some pilots until they started sinking and then found enough lift to get back over launch. After gliding around the valley a bit I found a beautiful thermal over a little hill and tried to make it back to launch again. It didn't look like I'd clear the ridge so I touched down in a farmer's field just ahead of a "poop" truck. I packed up quickly to keep from getting sprayed and soon a wonderful man asked if I needed a ride back to my car. He had his own little fixed-wing airplane & wanted to know all about what I was doing, so by the end of it I'd offered him a tandem and hope he'll take me up on it.

The "poop" truck coming to get me!

Today looked like it would be too stable to fly, but after waiting on launch for 2 hours we finally got airborne. My friend Karin was out after a long hiatus so we decided to try a small xc flight together over to my house. Everything worked out perfectly and we had a really fun flight, landing on a small road between the fields and then hopping a barbed wire fence to get out. We felt pretty adventurous! While walking the 2 blocks to my house we passed some kids selling lemonade so of course shelled out the 25 cents each for a drink. So refreshing, and such a civilized ending to a great flight.

Karin coming in to land

Tomorrow morning Derek & I hop on a plane to Europe for 6 weeks of adventure. I'm pretty sure this is my favourite Easter ever!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flying Dreams

One of the first things people tell me when I talk to them about paragliding is that they have flying dreams, and want to know if paragliding is anything like that. Usually it isn't. In dreams, most people don't run off cliffs and spend their time either frantically looking for lift or holding their breath as they pass through turbulent air. But yesterday was different.

It was cold. Really cold. In fact after about 15 minutes I was ready to call on the radio and see if anyone wanted to go land and get some hot chocolate. But no one else seemed to mind their frozen fingertips, so I gave myself the challenge of trying to stay airborne while flying around closer to the ground where the couple degrees of temperature increase would make all the difference. And then the magic happened.

At around 250 metres over the ground I saw a bird in front of me, going up slowly but still going up. I flew over and sure enough there was a thermal...although it was a very stinky one. A pooh thermal to be exact. A tractor was fertilizing the fields below and with each pass of the field would release the tiny, smelly thermals. For 30 whole minutes I spent my time between 250-350 metres over the ground happily drifting all around the valley floor, while everyone else was shivering while flying up high over the mountain. Any time my thermal vanished I would just head for my trusty tractor & literally sniff around til I found the lift again. It was exactly like a flying dream...quiet, smooth air and the feeling of just being able to float around above the ground forever.

I've been flying for over 10 years now, and it never gets boring. Just when you think you have the day figured out a little gift like this flight pops up, and the sport is brand new again. I think I may just be the luckiest girl in the world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Air Therapy

happy girl after landing

Something about a good flight makes everything else in life better. That's probably yet another sign that I'm hopelessly addicted to this sport, but I'm a happy addict so it's fine by me.

Today was amazing. It's been raining for the last 3 days & the forecast was for rain straight through the weekend so nobody was planning to fly at all. But magically the sun appeared and by the time our group reached launch at 4pm there were already a couple of pilots twice the height of launch. Some hazy cloud had moved in by the time I took off so I wasn't expecting much, but there was still lift to be found and soon we joined our friends and started exploring the sky.

Most of us had decided to go over the back so I went that way after getting high enough, although I was on my own for the first bit as I had launched last. At Agassiz mountain the group had split up, but 3 of us chatted on the radio & decided to try & fly back to the launch (especially since all of our trucks were parked there at the bottom). It had clouded over some, so eventually the other pilots bailed and flew out to the alternate landing. That left me in charge of getting back to the truck and going to get everyone else! I was pretty low and turned to go land with the group a couple of times, but kept the faith & eventually skulked around the south knoll and had the landing in sight.

Of course as soon as the hard part was over I caught my best thermal of the day. I got back up high over launch and extended my flight a bit before heading out to land and pick up my buddies. Today was a sweet surprise and a great enabling for my addiction.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bye-bye cough & cold

Here it is, almost the end of March and I've been putting off writing until I had that first great spring flight. Well spring had it's own plan this year! I've been practically immobilized for a week with an awful cold/cough that shows up in a different spot every day. Before that I had almost 2 weeks with intense back was almost as if a neon billboard was posted in the sky saying "Stay Home & Rest". Weird, because it's not like I was stressed or insanely busy or anything and I like to find meaning in events and can't figure out why my body shut me down.

On the bright side, when I woke up this morning my cough was gone & it seems to have turned back into a cold where it all started. I'm POSITIVE this means it's finishing up today and I can put Outside Clothes on again (not that I've minded lazing about on the couch in comfy sweat pants...). Yesterday was one of the first great days of flying and even though I couldn't be in the air I made a deposit in my karma account and picked up some pilots who landed near my house & drove them back to their cars. That seems like a nice way to start of the flying year, doesn't it?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I never had a pet growing up. My dad said he was allergic to cats but really he just hated them. And the feeling was mutual...cats would seriously hiss when he walked in the room. But I wasn't a huge animal lover anyway and was probably the only little girl who didn't want a pony (although a flying unicorn would have been most welcome.)

As an adult the closest I've come to a living organism under my care has been some hardy plants that refuse to die, even when I go away for a month at a time & neglect them (may I recommend ferns & rubber trees for those looking for some independent greenery?). So I've surprised myself by a fierce attachment to Bob, the landing zone cat.

Bob showed up one day at the paragliding school owned by my friends Jim & Colleen. Jim is about as much as a cat person as my dad was (one of Jim's favourite sayings was "the only good cat is a stuffed cat"), so noone knew where this super-friendly calico came from. Soon one of the pilots named her Bob (before finding out Bob was a she, of course) and soon Colleen & even Jim appreciated her ability to take care of the mice hanging out in the barn (aka paragliding school room).

Flash forward a year later. Bob has become every pilot's pet, more dog than cat as she comes running out to the field to meet you when you land and jumps on your lap for some love if you happen to sit down. So when yesterday looked flyable we decided to land at "Bob's" & check how she was dealing with the snow, figuring she was mooching off some other family who would let her inside.

As I was on final approach to land I saw some tiny paw prints in the snow, and as I touched down there was Bob sitting in a grassy patch in the field, meowing away demanding to know where I've been. It's embarrassing how happy that made me. She walked over to visit as I packed up, talking away the whole time. Part of me wanted to kidnap her & bring her home, but Bob belongs to everyone and as a person who travels so much I've arranged my life to be easy to get away from on a moment's notice. Sometimes I wonder about things I miss with this type of life - pets, children, a garden without weeds & slugs- but in the end being able to pull off a Great Escape at the last minute appeals to me over everything else and I'm so lucky to have a boyfriend who feels the same.

I'm also lucky to have a part-time pet in Bob and am happy to share her. A cat that awesome should be available to everyone.

Pawprints in the!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Self-portraits wearing a full-face helmet aren't flattering. But when you hit flight 1000, you take one anyway.

Flight 1000. Saturday February 5, 2011. One hour in the cold winter air. Still smiling 2 days later.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A new New Year?

Hard to believe the first month of the year is gone already!

January was actually an awesome month (besides my whiniest birthday ever - sorry if you actually read that post before it got put in the trash where it belonged...) and checking in on my resolutions I've gotten a good start on them. I flew some small xc's in Mexico, came up with my company name & have been building a website over the last week.

So maybe I'm just looking for an excuse to drink the mini bottles of champagne left over from New Year's Eve but I was thinking of having a new New Year on the last day of every month. A time to re-focus on goals and reflect on what was accomplished over the last 4 weeks. A method of keeping myself accountable and full of sparkly wine...I think I may just do it!

My paragliding goals may have to wait until spring to get going again. As you can see from my in-flight photo from last week it's not quite as warm or thermally as Mexico, but I have a pretty cool view just the same.

Happy New Month's Eve everybody!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mexico Adventure hotel flight

Soccer field landing zone near the hotel

The day before yesterday the weather looked amazing. Big puffy clouds were forming so we figured a long task was called for, but after launching & getting high right away the clouds shaded out the valley & we sunk down to the landing zone. So we decided to head for the hotel again & try to land in town at the soccer field. My great luck this week continued and I got nice & high and was pretty sure I'd make it. Just before town the shade moved in again, but I saw a couple of vultures milking a small thermal & flew over to join them. My plan worked & I got enough lift to easily glide to the soccer field (above). Even more exciting than making it to the "goal field" (and making it first!) was the kids that ran out to the field to see us:

By the time the 3rd pilot landed, most of the neighbourhood kids had shown up.

Yesterday morning the clouds looked even bigger so we planned to fly north where the guys did their big 30 km XC at the beginning of the week. First flights we got shaded out again but we went back to launch to try again. I decided to fly last as I've been rushing off launch first most days, but that may have been the start of my downfall. The first 2 pilots were starting to climb out and I flew towards Derek who was working a thermal out front. I joined him in it and somehow - despite being the star thermaller this trip -I fell out of the thermal & couldn't get back in! There was shade all around & I had to do the glide of shame to the regular LZ. Derek ended up going about 10 km, the next furthest pilot about 12 and the "winner" of the day got 25km.

Needless to say I was upset for choking on the best day, but after a Corona & some lunch we went back to the other launch for a glass-off flight. That's when all the hot air in the valley releases at the end of the day and the air is smooth & lifty & you just fly around til sunset. Always a good cure for what ails ya...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mexico Adventure Day ???

My landing zone today

Calendar days are starting to become meaningless ....I'm deep in vacation mode now. I'm pretty sure I still have a week left before it's time to go home so that's 7 more days of epic flying.

So a couple of days ago I missed a day due to an upset Mexican stomach. Yesterday I woke up feeling great and the day looked epic, but 30 minutes into my flight I started feeling nauseas & had to fly out. Too bad since I was high & on my way to a great XC (cross country flight). I ended up getting 10 km or so, but the guys who flew where I was heading got 30 km. There may have been some jealousy on my part but I knew I could've done it had I been well so that made up for it.

This morning I felt fantastic - I didn't realize how well until one of the guys from Colorado noted that my stomach must feel better since I was doing handstands on launch! The weather was a bit more stable so we wouldn't be getting too high, but I managed a few low saves and got to try some flat land flying which is new for me. Herminio swooped into the LZ and as we gave him a ride up he said the weather for this week is just supposed to improve. Awesome!

Flight #2 we planned to fly to our hotel about 10 km away. Not a super long flight, but in Mexico they like to plant power lines in the most unlikely places which really limits your landing options. Add a bunch of fields in crop & it makes the flight much more interesting. Since we were ready for a great flight of course we hit sink all the way to the regular landing zone. Well...ALMOST all the way. At 200 meters over the ground I saw a tractor working & made a last-ditch effort to fly over & hope he was kicking off a thermal. There was a tiny beep, but a beep just the same. I worked that little patch of lift to over 1000 meters higher! Nothing feels as good as a low save, I swear. Derek & a few others saw me zoom up & hurried over and soon we all flew towards the hotel.

I landed in a cut corn field 1km out of town with a shady place to pack up that was next to a road. A farmer soon came over & started talking. Between my butchered Spanish & his broken English we talked about flying, his stint living in Oregon & the restaurant his sister-in-law owned in SLC Utah. He soon offered me a ride and as he went to get his truck Derek came walking around the corner! I knew he had landed somewhere nearby but thought he was a lot farther away. Antonio (the farmer) gave us a ride right to our hotel door - talk about spoiled! A chicken fajita (with grilled pineapple in it) with some tequila rounded out another bueno day.

Antonio (my saviour driver) wearing the t-shirt from his family's restaurant in Utah.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mexico Adventure Day 4

Today's post is short:

Being sick on vacation sucks!

On the good side, I think I just accidentally inhaled some water while showering or ate something nasty so should be good by tomorrow. The rest of the gang had a couple of flights but I don't think I missed out on anything epic (yay).

I also made a new friend while sitting on launch watching everyone else fly away. So all in all, it's still better to be sick in Mexico than in the rain/snow/wind at home!

Mexico Adventure Day 2 & 3

View from my glider

Day 2 ended up being a rest day for Derek & I as it was too windy for our taste. Jim had a flight though & showed us where to fly over the back if it ever gets too windy when we're in the air already. We picked up another flying couple from the airport & had dinner at a fancy restaurant, eating food like artichokes with roquefort and a portobello mushroom dish. A nice change for a night, but we're back to quesadillas and coronas now.

Sunday was epic! We flew San Marcos again for a couple of hours, launching a little after noon. It was a mix of butt-kickin' thermals, ridge lift and a few friendly thermals too. We all went to land about the same time, tired & ready for lunch. We drove into a nearby town & stopped at the roadside restaurant that had the loudest band. Perfect choice! We ran into Manuel, a local hang glider pilot, and ate a huge lunch with him. Conversation happened in bursts between the band's songs but we had a great time trying.

We decided to head back up to launch in hopes of catching a smooth glass-off flight, and arrived to watch Herminio swooping launch repetitively in fat, laminar air. Game on! We got about an hour of soaring in until sunset - Jim waited in the landing zone with his headlights on since it was getting fairly dark as the last of us touched back down to earth.

Back at the hotel, the festival of Guadalupe was STILL going on, so we walked to the square to watch some more madness. All that flying today took it's toll though so I was in bed by's a hard life!