Today, as expected, was completely different.
Major thunderstorms rolled this this morning, putting flying out of the question. It was drippy when we woke up, but torrential while we were in briefing. Lightning strikes every few minutes at one point.
We watched a video (starring William Shatner, who’s a paramotorist as well) about things to watch out for when flying. We saw a *bunch* of examples of how /not/ to fly, and ways to do things correctly.
We learned about preflight checklists, for ourselves, the site, the weather, and the equipment. We learned that if things feel even a little bit off...you pull the plug.
It’s always better to wish you were in the air than to wish that you were on the ground.
We spoke step by step about both takeoff and launch steps.
Finally, we ran through the safety procedures if the radios go out.
After class, I found an open patch of land, drew a beach on the ground, and practiced various scenarios. I feel we should do more of that. On the ground if we goof up we look silly. In the air...well...
All told, not so physically demanding, but a hell of a day. I’ve got a lot to think about and a lot of notes to transcribe tonight.
So far I’m having the time of my life. I should have done this years ago.
I am getting a little tired of saying this, but...it was another beautiful day. (Mother Nature has my back, as it looks like we’re going to be washed out for the bulk of tomorrow. I’m not praying for rain, but...if a little rain means we can rest a bit and do classroom work, so much the better.)
We did a *lot* of running today. I normally get 10K steps or so, and today I got 18600 or so. Not just steps, obviously, as I was hauling the mass of the wing behind me and/or helping to pull teammates (I’ll explain more later).
First things first, today started with no wind and a perfectly blue sky.
We did 3 main activities today: forward launching, kite handling, and tow launching.
For forward launching, you strap yourself into the wing, point yourself downwind, and start running. Just to make things fun, there was a 1-2mph breeze. This was significant as they wanted to play a game where we ran down the beach, turned around, and ran back to the starting point. That meant you had to run much harder on the way back (after using all your energy to get to that point). Basic training had nothing on that.
Next, we were doing “kiting”, or ground handling skills for the wings. Talk about frustrating and exhausting!
Finally, we got to do towed launches. That’s where a couple ropes are tied to you, and then you’re pulled as fast as the people can pull you down a gentle slope. You don’t have a motor, but it means that you have a little more momentum than before, and you get to actually leave the ground, before floating back down and landing. I might have gotten 5 meters off the ground today.
Here’s a video of one of my classmates doing it:
For this launch I was filming, but for most of the others I was pulling. Then I found out that someone had caught my top to bottom as well:
On the way home, I saw that the water with this kind of sunset looked like it had quicksilver poured across the top of it;
Wow, I’m really tired.
Last night a heavy rain shower came in. Sounded like we were going to be swept away.
This morning, it was as if Mother Nature wanted to reassure us it wasn’t personal:
After a start like that, you know the day is going to go well.
We started with how to make sure your reserve chute is packed properly:
Then we got into our swim costumes, and practiced “ditching” into the swimming pool, and figuring out how to undo all the buckles and what not before you drown. (I don’t have any pictures of that, sorry).
Then, we went to the beach again. Us beginners were practicing the ground handling of the wing, while the more experienced folks actually started flying on the site. Leading to views like this all day long (can you see the tiny paramotor around the center of the image, seeming to fly off to heaven...
I must have run up and down the beach 25 times, hauling the wing, and practicing feeling how it behaves in the wind.
I’m beat. I’m going to bed.
Today we did something called ‘kiting’. It’s where you launch a half-size wing into the air, and then practice controlling it.
The wind today was very gusty. Even though my ideal wing is fully twice the size of this one, I just couldn’t believe the power in this wing. (This is not me...from the hat, I think it was one of the instructors gauging whether we could handle the wing or not.
Generally, this wing is significantly less stable than the real thing, which made it great for practicing.
We weren’t clipped in or anything. Had the wind gotten the better of us, we have just let go of one side of the wing, making it an expensive streamer, rather than a wing capable of flight.
We were only able to fly these for about an hour. Obviously, it was because of the storm blowing in. The fact that my arms are *still* shaking has absolutely nothing to do with it, I assure you.
The weather over the next week or so is predicted to be more or less perfect. Enough wind so you don’t have to run your ass off...yet not so much that we cannot control the glider.
I can’t wait.
Amazing what a few hours can do for the weather...
I *love* the colours in this picture. The blue of the sky is exciting, and the bands of brown in the water are run off from the mountains.
This part of the world is very mountainous. That means lots of steep gullies that run for miles. By the time the water makes it to the ocean, it’s picked up a *lot* of mud, as you can see...
So, flew in to Malaga late last night. Could see the lights of the surrounding villages climbing the mountains, and there were interesting effects as the clouds obscured the lights.
Went to bed, and woke up before dawn (dawn was 8:25, we’re not talking crack of, not really...) to see the beautiful blue sky’s, and the sunny bursting into life over the mountains...
Did Mother Nature not get the memo?
It’s not (really) a problem this morning as today is a leisurely drive to the camp site, a chance to get settled, and a day to relax. All the fun stuff kicks off tomorrow.