Icaristics: Bruce Goldsmith’s Paragliding Proverbs

Bruce Goldsmith and clan in the Dolomites…

We all say them, and we all hear them. Some might be thought clichés, but there is a lot of truth in paragliding proverbs. These are the ones I sign up to.

Never be separated from your equipment
Imagine there are two cars going to launch: always travel in the same car as your equipment. If you don’t, you might just end up not flying at all. You also won’t be there to make sure your kit doesn’t get thrown off the truck and damaged. Equally, if you’re heading up to launch and your kit gets thrown in the back along with a bunch of pilots, jump in there with it and them: that way the only person using it for a seat will be you.

Don’t change two things at once
If you change too many parameters at once you can make a mistake more easily as everything becomes unfamiliar. This could lead to an accident. There are three main factors to consider when you are changing things: harness, glider and site. So don’t change more than one of these factors at once. If you go to a new site, fly a wing and harness you know. Try out new wings and harnesses at a site you know well.

If it’s flyable – then fly
If conditions are not dangerous, then don’t wait around – just fly. Even if you go down, it doesn’t matter. You will often find that when you get back to launch the same pilots are still waiting there. You flew and they didn’t. Conditions may also become unflyable – so flying when it’s flyable is better than waiting for it to become not flyable.


Tomorrow’s weather will likely be the same as today
Pilots spend hours studying the weather forecast, and sometimes it can turn out to be completely wrong. Simply to expect tomorrow’s weather to be the same or similar to today’s works more often than not.

If what you’re doing works, then carry on. If it doesn’t work, then change it
This is a useful strategy to consider when flying XC and trying to understand the weather conditions and make decisions. It was echoing in my head on the last day of the Paragliding World Championships back in 2007. My team leader had told me I should mark the guy in second place, that way if I landed with him I would win. I did not follow that advice, but instead followed my saying and carried on flying with the same style. It had worked up until then so why change? During that flight I got low out in the flats out on my own, but in the end it paid off and I won the comp. This saying also works as well outside flying as much as within.

Don’t fly alone
Flying with others improves safety a lot. You can help each other on the ground and watching the other person can also give you help in the air. You can also assist each other in case of accident. Sometimes you have no choice but to fly alone, but avoid it if you can.

Keep all your kit together
Finally, it may seem straightforward but make sure you pack all your flying equipment together in one bag and don’t separate it. That way you won’t forget anything when you rush out of the house and grab your stuff at the last minute. There is nothing worse than getting to take-off only to realize you have forgotten your helmet, your gloves on a cold day, your boots when you’re wearing flip-flops or worse, your harness. Keep it together!

First published in Cross Country Magazine 175. Bruce Goldsmith is a paragliding designer and former Paragliding World Champion. He’s written a column for Cross Country Magazine every issue for the last 20 years. If you enjoy this sample article, perhaps you’d consider subscribing and supporting the world’s only international free flying magazine?

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