Tuesday 31 May: Report by Mark Hayman
Ed the Editor (or Ed the Ed one could quip I suppose) has told me a reader has told me my blogs are ‘negative’ and that if I don’t like comps anymore I shouldn’t do them.
Well I was a very happy bunny yesterday flying and the same today so not much negativity there. True, I disagree with the direction the paragliding comp community has chosen to go in and, being a loud-mouth, will say that when asked but that’s just my opinion and if other people have a different one they’re entitled to say that as well.
So to today’s blog I shall get the negative out the way first.
On a fairly normal tasking day and on a short task we’ve had one crash, a helicopter, another person in a tree and another landing incident with a leg injury. Three people have ended the day having lost control of their gliders and/or in hospital. I don’t think it’s acceptable but it’s a fairly ‘normal’ day in the paragliding comp world. One person who’s in the trees and can remain nameless flew fantastically last year on his serial wing and so decided to ‘move up’ to the Open Class, and it’s only taken four days to put the thing in the trees under a reserve. Either he’s got very, very unlucky or there is a dark heart lurking in the DNA of the modern comp wings like I keep saying there is.
There was a big crash on take-off today and that person is in hospital. The air was a bit funky and, to be honest, not many gliders will go through that without some sort of collapsing but, again, it was a high-aspect comp wing that the pilot was on and a small cravat was enough to see him spin and stall to the ground, seemingly lost as to where he was pointing or what the wing was doing. He hit the ground from about 10 to 15 metres with a very loud ‘whump’ and was extremely lucky to survive. Initially he was OK but subsequently went downhill and needed a helicopter to hospital to check something important wasn’t in two pieces inside his body. The task was well set and nothing on the leeside so these incidents are happening to gliders in normal flying air and to experienced pilots.
All gliders will take a big collapse sooner or later. The only things that make a difference after that are luck, your ability and whether the glider is working for you or against you. Make your own conclusions, I’ve already made mine.
Good! I’ve got the negative stuff out the way and can talk about the positives for the day!
The task was great and loads of people got to goal. I love my glider more and more and after a few years of quite, shall we say, unreassuring comp gliders I’m really rediscovering my flying again. Running with the pack from the start it was good to be in amongst it and up around the front again. Craig was leading off, as he so often does, with the bit between his teeth and in my exuberance and enjoyment I was off after him like a shot and flew myself straight into the deck trying to be clever on a low glide to a turnpoint with the red mist fully down. Craig did the same. What a pair of prats… Ha ha! I know I must have been enjoying the task because I was fuming about landing out and watching everybody else fly over my head ten minutes later. Oh how quickly those old feelings come back…
Still, I was pleased that I seem to remember how to pull the strings, not stop to climb unless strictly necessary and how to push the gas pedal. All great fun.
My little U-Sport is proving to be a real diamond. True it won’t kill an R10 or 11 at speed on a glide (though you might be surprised how small the difference really is) but then the trade off I make is to get to fly something that makes me smile. And there are lots of little things with it;
I can do Big Ears again without the glider thrashing about like a mad thing above my head!
I can spiral dive and it actually goes down rather than make me feel like I’m in astronaut g-force training and being worried that I’m going to break it.
I can turn left! At last! I could never get my comp wings to go left because when I pulled the left brake I’d tip right in my harness for reasons only my body knows and then they wouldn’t turn. Now I’m on something that goes round corners it’s easy again…
I can take off without the thing shooting over my head and dumping me on my arse if there’s any sort of wind. I even had a smug little walk around take off and a chat to the marshals before I went today with the wing inflated, just because I could.
I took a dirty great big frontal that would have had my comp wing inside out today and I laughed about it rather than having ‘Elvis Leg’ for ten minutes afterwards.
Oh Happy Days…!
Is this positive enough?
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