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One a typical summer's day three hours time could make the difference between these two flights… Check above - all OK - you check ahead - it's clear. You crane forward and run hard, the wing pulls you off the ground. You pull your left brake and twist in the harness,
|Feel the warm breeze.. |
...come up into your face as you check the crumpled ripstop nylon canopy spread on the ground behind you, feel the tension of the lines as you pull them against the resistance of the wind - pull hard, the cells of the paraglider inflate and form a wall behind you, you are pulled back a step - push against the pull - the wing comes up above you head, a canopy against the sky ....
read on... or jump straight to getting started..
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|How about Skydiving |
Bungee Jumping?- well, you've only got one life after all?
Scenario 1 - beauty and tranquility..a gentle turn brings you parallel with the slope, the vario (Variometer - tells you if you are going up or down) bleeps, you're in rising air, you touch the brakes , slow a little , the vario burbles, you're level with take off now and rising steadily. Right brake and shift the weight in the harness, come round right and come back on the slope, passing your take off. The steady sound of the wind in the lines tells you you're at the right speed. Ahead of you is half a mile of bracken covered ridge to explore. At the end a buzzard circles in a thermal, you quickly overhaul some walkers. The next hour passes. Mind and body alert to the needs of staying in that band of steadily rising air just in front of the ridge but also reveling in the sensation of the simplest form of soaring, senses tuned to the tranquility of evening ridge soaring.Time to land - all clear - you line up the patch of grass that was take-off and crab sideways. The ground comes closer, a little more speed for safety, and pull on the brakes just before touching down. Brake and step backwards, the chute falls behind and is quickly tamed. Pack up into the large rucksack. As you near home, the traffic slows and stops. The driver in the car opposite scowls and hoots in frustration, you smile - how can he know where you have just been?
Scenario 2 - adrenalin and fear
The vario alarm sounds out, must be sinking fast, going down - you've only been in the air for a minute - what kind of a sport is this? The canopy shudders, suddenly the right wing rears up, you counter by pulling right brake to keep it level, the vario screams in to life, you pull further right into the air bursting skywards, you're in a lift, already level with take off, you fly an S shape, how big is this thing, is this the one to take you to cloud base? a jolt, you're out of the thermal, pull round hard to look for it, It's trying to spit you out, must be in front of you, open the turn, nothing - wait, a blip, two, a steady moan, the sound tells you the shape of the rising air, turn into it and try to fly efficient turns. Above take off now, you can fly 360 degree turns, drifting back behind the ridge, looks good, another glider is in the same thermal, you've seen him he's seen you.Ok. You wind your way up. The hill is shrinking, it's getting colder, keep turning efficiently. It's a good thermal, a kestrel is in it too, wisps of dandelion seed, altimeter reads 200 meters. Things are smoother now,, fly bigger circles, but the thermal still wants to push you out. Where next, your map shows clear airspace downwind - how far today - 4 miles if I can't stay in this thermal, but could be 30, 40, 50 miles? not a record by any means - but still fun.The fluffy cumulus above beckons - not too close, the cornfields are pretty reliable for the next thermal - with this wind I'll look further downwind. Short of the top of the thermal, time to leave, don't want to get sucked too close, but it's decaying, maintaining height but no more, no, that's it - time to look for the next one, turn downwind, sinking fast out of the thermal, vario alarm is on again. Head for those yellow fields. Look for the signs, birds? rippling corn? thistledown, changes in smell, crisp packets - anything! Getting low, down to 200 meters, can land in any of these fields, check for electricity lines - well they are pretty much invisible form the air - any houses? worn patches of field where animals use telegraph poles as scratching posts - no all clear. We're still alive. Never say die. The vario alarm has stopped, sinking at the normal rate now, bumpy air, good sign, a wing tip collapses, rustles and re-inflates, here we are, what a sound! keep it smooth, concentrate, relax - breathe normally. the view? lose this thermal and there won't be one vario alarm on again, sinking fast, not looking good. any other fields will do - nearest road? pub?
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