The Adventures Of Captain Jayneway
Bossin’ The Hog!
Well it’s been a few weeks since I last did any ground handling. Life just gets in the way sometimes! About a week ago, I finally got around to assembling my very own windsock. I had some old ‘ready for the scrap man’ metal tent poles laying about the place. I’d kept these ‘join together’ sections of pole from a tent that went south a long time ago. They were just something I thought might come in handy, at some point. And I wasn’t wrong! The master pole had a ready-made hole punched in the metal at the top end of it and was perfect to attach the windsock to. Voila! With a bit of baler twine and all the sections joined together, I soon had the windsock and pole attached to a bit of fencing, ensuring that I could see what the wind was doing and if it was good for a bit of ground handling.
It had been a busy day, but when I got back to the farm I just knew it was a perfect night for a bit of wrestle with the nylon. This could not be ignored. I grabbed all my gear and trudged across the fields to the best spot to take advantage of the southerly. The wind was doing about 11-15mph and was blowing quite nicely. I reckoned that there was enough constant wind to have a go at doing some reverse launches. Reverse launches are something I have only had minimal practice at doing, but I hands down prefer launching facing the glider. Reverse launches, you feel like you have more control of what you’re doing. You can see the glider inflating and it seems to instil more confidence on every level.
I got all my gear set out, climbed into my harness and got hooked up. All sorts of things run through my mind as I’m about to try and launch a glider and I still have moments of doubt that I am going to execute the procedure without either ending up on my arse or with the lines around my neck. I did all my checks and made sure the lines were all clear. I had a go at ‘building a wall’, the term used to describe preparing the canopy before flight can take place. Building a wall helps to clear the lines and make sure the stacking of the risers is correct as well as semi inflating the glider so you’re ready to launch it up. To my surprise, I managed this without a single hitch or scuffle. I was feeling quite confident at this point and good to go.
This is when something truly amazing happened. First launch of the day and first for weeks and I executed an absolutely perfect textbook reverse launch. It was the best reverse launch I had ever done. I think I actually squealed with delight and couldn’t quite believe it. OK, so was that just a one off lucky shot?
I set up for another go. And again, another perfect reverse launch. After around 6 more near perfect reverse launches I started to believe that the penny might finally have dropped. I was on cloud nine and in between practicing launching I was building more walls. Where once I would have been wrestling and tussling and getting dragged around in utter confusion as to why the bloody thing wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. Even though I did have a few moments where the ground hog did try and have a go at flooring and tangling me, I kept the glider under control on and off the ground…
I was thinking about what had changed to facilitate such a meteoric transformation in my ground handling. Practicing more at every available opportunity has been the real key for me. But there are other influences that are just priceless. I wasn’t searching for anything to do with paragliding, but as I was surfing the Internet a few days prior to this, up popped a short snippet of video of a guy from Cloudbase Australia doing a reverse launch and taking off in under 20 seconds. I watched it about 15 times. He made it look so easy. What I realised when I watched that video was that launching a glider is a calm, precise and considered operation. Panicking about whether or not it’s going to launch before you do it is definitely not the way forward. I noted his hand and body position, but the absolute diamond moment for me was how he walked backwards as he was pulling the risers. This might sound so obvious to some people, but when you’re learning to paraglide your concentration is so focused on getting the glider up, you forget about your feet being planted into the ground. I took every bit of those 20 seconds on board and it made millennia of difference to how I approached my winning launches. I have an abundance of gratitude for the free advice available at our fingertips… simply amazing, thank you to everyone who freely shares such great videos and knowledge.
Tonight, I finally felt like I had bossed the hog! Not the other way around! More practice brings more confidence. More confidence brings me closer and closer to my goal of completing my Club Pilot licence by the end of this year. And it’s a goal I intend to reach! The weather this summer has just been magnificent, it’s such a shame I have had so much on my plate I haven’t had a nano second to myself to do anything, let alone get a good run at my paragliding. If I can’t finish my CP course in the UK while the weather is good, I’ll just go and finish it in Spain later in the year (and wouldn’t that be awful) … where there’s a will, there’s always a way!
Life the life you love… Love the life you live…
Over & Out