Math Formula

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Call me paraglider ... ehm, officially tested paragliding pilot!

Several weeks ago, I joined airdrenaline, a local paragliding club. During Monday's annual meeting of the club, I was awarded the "Diploma Pilot paraglajdera", rendering me an officially tested paragliding pilot!

In the weeks between, I got to know some of the guys from the club fairly well, and it's hard to describe how great a time I had. In the meantime, I
  • scared away a cow which was calmly eating when I approached it from the air
  • scared away a farmer who was taking a dump in the field
  • literally found the pretty worst landing zone on the entire hill (some coppice)
  • literally found the only tree on the entire hill
It's definitely no exaggeration to say that a big share of my amazing year 1 aftermath is due to you, dear colleagues from the club.
Admittedly, the ratio between effort and actual enjoyment is fairly high, similar to, say, surfing, or ... well, I guess you can imagine one or two more similar activities.

For those of you who are not familiar with paragliding: Basically, the only equipment used is a wing, to which you are connected with an awful lot of lines. Unfortunately, these lines have a tendency to get tangled whenever they can. This wing is made of ultra-light fabric such as polyester, and typically around 25-30 sqm. It is constructed in a way that it would fly without any external powers - as soon as it is inflated properly. Once in the air, you mainly control it via a left and a right line (brake). Pulling the left brake deflates the glider a little bit on that side, resulting in the air streaming faster through the right part of it. Consequently, you turn left.

Typically, you start by spreading your glider on a hill and turn your back to the hill, looking towards the glider. Under normal conditions, the wind blows up hill. Therefore, once you start pulling the lines, the glider inflates and, since it's constructed in a way to fly, it starts ascending above your head.
Something like that:

Useless to say, it also starts showing its own will, too. Thus, the first two days of learning how to handle a glider only consist of getting to know what the glider wants, and how to enforce what you want. Pulling it up. Glider going down. Pulling it up. Glider pulling you five meters in one direction. And pulling it up. Glider all of a sudden trying to take you off, and concerned instructor trying to hold you back. Packing glider. And again.

However, the moments where you gain control over the glider become more frequent and longer.
Until, one day, you are considered to be ready for takeoff. In order to do that, you pull up the glider until it is directly above you, turn, raise your hands in order to release the brakes ... and then you run. Remember, it's still takeoff against the wind, so you must run and pull really strong:

... until, all of a sudden, the wind just lifts you up, and you are flying .. woohooo!

Similar to some of the other activities from above, it's hard to describe it to somebody who never experienced it himself. For me, it's an awesome combination of freedom, calmness ... well, you best simply try it out yourself!

Even though I obtained the diploma now, I know there is so much and more to learn ... and I can't tell you how excited I am to spend some more time out there in the Bosnian mountains, together with some nice guys, doing something that is simply awesome...

P.S.: If you are interested in more pictures, check out the club's Facebook page. There are also some cool videos on youtube.

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