I hop out of bed Saturday morning looking forward to hang gliding. The weather is supposed to be perfect. Even more exciting, I had an epiphany on Thursday that I am ready to go off the mountain. Oddly, I don’t remember why.
We arrive at the training hills and get up on the big hill as quickly as possible. There is a gentle headwind that makes launching an absolute breeze (I know, bad pun).
I have 3 fantastic flights. I launch strong, control the glider well, and land on my feet like I have been doing this for a long time. Since I”m on about my 150th launch, maybe I have?
Then, the wind that is supposed to be calm today starts to misbehave. It picks up speed and strength and starts to cross. When it’s my turn, the instructor has decided we will wait for a calm cycle so we can fly back down to the setup area, but no more flying today.
I wait and wait. Then, the wind calms slightly and stops crossing. I call, “clear” and start the approach. I’m 3 steps into the approach when a crosswind grabs my glider. I run to my target and try to straighten it out on the ground, but the wind carries me off the hill–I am airborne and headed for the trees.
I attempt to turn, but the glider doesn’t respond to my inputs. For a split second, the thought, “I could actually die doing this” pops into my head. Then I say to myself, “DON’T PANIC!” (yes, this is an exact quote from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”). Instantly, the magical words that have been drilled into my head follow: “Pull in for Speed.” And this, my friends, was the moment when I knew I was going to be OK.
Not only today, but on the mountain. Because in a moment when my brain might have completely frozen, I gained control and was able to turn the glider away from the trees.
But my ride wasn’t quite over. As I approached for landing, the wind picked me up again, lifting the entire glider. I was a bit torn on whether to pull the nose down again this time since I was awfully close to the ground to try to pick up speed. I compromised by pulling in the nose slightly and then pushing out just a little as I got close to the ground, managing a nice gentle landing on the wheels.
Ironically, I came out with fewer bumps than when I walk from the bedroom to the bathroom. Maybe I should just do dangerous things all the time?
Tisen came running down the hill to greet me a few minutes after I’d started carrying the glider to the break down area. I’m not sure if he was afraid he was about to lose his new mommy, but he certainly seemed happy to see me in one piece.
No photos or video from today, so I’m afraid this is a re-run:
Here’s a new one of Tisen doing Yin and Yang with Pat: