Powered Paragliding - Part IV and V

Let’s begin with Part IV.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been routinely letting my page slack. I hope to change that, but summer is just chock full of things to do. It’s a neverending juggling act for time to do all the things I like to do. Photography is still there, but its falling down on the priority list. More on that later, back to PPG.

Last year I was at 11 flights with the last one being quite long at around 1,100 feet. From that altitude, you can see the mist of Niagara Falls in the distance, the Niagara River leading to it, and a pretty good distance in every direction - Everything I want.

A few weeks passed from that night before I was able to schedule another training session. My hope was to bang out another 10 flights. 5 in the morning, 5 at night. I arrived extremely early, coffee in hand and got to work unloading the motor from the car and assembling the cage and propeller. The sun was starting to warm the grass, but it was still dew-covered so I left the glider in the car so it wouldn’t get wet. Two other guys arrived along with Andre, my instructor and as the others got their gear together, we waited for the ground to dry. Time passed and the ground was drying, but it was taking a long time.

The thing about paragliders is, they need to stay dry or else they won’t inflate when they get damp and heavy, but with time passing, our window for flight was closing. As time goes on, thermals increase as does the wind, so the time came where we had to make a decision - are we going to wait more for the grass to dry and risk the wind picking up? Or give it a go. I volunteered to lay out my wing and give it a go. I warmed up my motor and unpacked the wing, laying it out into the wind. Time to go!

Wind was favourable, motor warmed and I was set for a forward launch which is my favourite. As normal, I took a step back, then pushed off forward to inflate the wind and then it happened. What I hoped was just a pulled muscle in my calf turned out to be some sort of ligament tear. Something popped, the knee buckled and what was a perfect inflation quickly fell back down behind me, the motor cut and a took a few minutes to self assess what was going on. Limping with the motor on my back, I took a knee and unhooked and tried unsuccessfully to walk it off. As the others eventually decided it was time to fly, I came to the realization that I was done and with some help, loaded my gear in the car and that was it for the year. Several months of physio has mostly fixed the issue, but I can say 2018 didn’t end as I had hoped. No licence, no flying, no freedom.

Part V

It’s nearly September of 2019 now and I had expected that I would have been licenced long ago. Not just last year, but perhaps by June. I’ve taken the glider to the park and practiced kiting it on my own which general success. I’m now confident in forwards and reverses and genuinely enjoy taking the glider out to practice kiting. If we had consistent wind it would be a lot more fun, but that’s nature.

Why am I not licenced yet? I’m asked that a lot. Between winter lasting longer than usual and an ungodly amount of rain that lasted far longer than usual, it wasn’t until July that between my schedule, rain, soggy conditions and instructor availability that I was able to schedule a flying session.

It’s at this point that I’m beginning to think that maybe there are signs telling me this is a bad idea. The day of my lesson, not only are there high winds, but there is a chance of thunderstorms. Session cancelled.

My instructor has had a great deal of vacation this summer - several weeks at a time, several times this summer. My own schedule hasn’t been mixing well with his availability and that has meant that I have had exactly zero flights this year. In fact, several weeks ago I started the motor just to feel what it was like again. With that fun over, the motor is back in the garage and the waiting continues. In the meantime, I continue to dream of flying.