Cross Country Magazine Tuesday Tip

This week's tip was prompted by an email from paragliding guide Brett Janaway to the Cross Country editorial desk

Honing your instinct

You often hear pilots talk about "instinct" or a hear another pilot referred to as being "very instinctive".

What does this mean?

A dictionary definition of 'instinct' is: "An inborn pattern of behaviour that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli: the spawning instinct in salmon."

We are not salmon, and we are not, generally, spawning when we fly.

A closer examination of what pilot 'instinct' is can reveal that it is in fact learned behaviour. That is, those pilots who follow their instincts are so adept at flying, have so much knowledge, that they make it look effortless. Others look at them and assume it must be instinct, or effortless talent.

So how do you train your 'instinct'? How do you know where that next climb is going to come from? Just how do you decide which way to go once you leave your climb?

Aside from the well known signs such as gliders circling, booming clouds and birds etc, if you are flying and there are no obvious indicators as to where to go then you need to look at the terrain and make a decision based on what you see.

Each and every climb you take, without exception, always look down and try to decide where it came from. What was the source and what was the trigger?

Once you have done this over a long period of time you will start to develop an 'instinct' for where you should go next. Your flying will start to look 'effortless'.

What it's about
Photo: Martin Scheel