When you first learn to paraglide, and throughout your career you are taught to always make sure your wing is perfectly inflated, pressurized and properly flying above your head. However, in the real world things can sometimes go wrong. More often than not it is pilot error from either a bad decision to fly, or not actively piloting your wing like you are suppose to….and believe me I have made plenty of errors through the years! I am sure every pilot at one point in time has looked up to see a part of his or her wing collapsing. The first time is usually followed by a ‘yikes’, hands up, and the wing often takes care of itself. However, what do you do when things go REALLY wrong? How you truly react in such a moment can mean the difference between a scary experience and a life threatening one. That is why SIV (simulation en vol….yeah, its French), or ‘Simulations In Flight’ is so important, fun, and scary all rolled into one because you get to force yourself and your wing to do everything it is not suppose to. Here you learn to understand not only the limits of your wing, but the threshold between calm collective action, and the need to change your underwear.
It is 8:00 a.m. as I stand along the windy shores of Bear Lake dressed like I am taking on Everest or something, but looking more like the stay puff marshmallow man. Four layers of clothes and a life jacket all tucked under my coat. The lack of body fat can often be a curse when it is cold, so I shiver away. “Are we nuts” mentions Clark as we watch the sun rise as the snow lightly falls. Yeah, I am questioning that right now too. The reality is I have been trying to get in a course for some advanced SIV training for nearly 3 years now, but either nobody wants to do it in Utah, or nobody has room. So when a slot opened up with Cade from the Jackson Hole area…..I took it. I couldn’t be happier to be sharing this experience with my good friends, Clark, Howie, and Carolyn. Time to begin as the tow rope gets handed to the group and everyone looks my way. Let the madness begin!
This video is not normally the kind of video I like to put out there as it has very few camera angles, is very shaky, and not that creative. Besides everybody loves to point out everything I did wrong….but hey, all in the spirit of learning right? So, I made it as more of a record for myself of lessons learned today and a testament to how awesome paragliders can recover if flown right.
In the end it has been a good day forcing my wing and myself to better understand each other. I appreciate Cade for his expertise and for allowing me to push myself to new limits. From dialing in and sharpening some rapid descent techniques, to letting me induce some really hard situations, like a stall spin that required a mandatory full stall recovery (for real). Sure I was in free fall for nearly 30 seconds, but it worked! I walk away with some new tricks up my sleeves, some sharper skills, and no new underwear needed. Even when I went up and over the top of my wing….calm and collective! Already looking forward to next time….perhaps a little warmer would be nice.