Do you know what a paraglider is? It is perhaps the best invention of the past one thousand years - a cross between a hang glider and a parachute. It is somewhat of the best of both worlds - it packs into a large backpack, but when unpacked and put into the wind takes shape. Unlike a hang glider you don't need a large hill or cliff to take off - the wind is enough to generate lift.
If this is half as exciting to you as it was to me, you're already on ebay trying to buy your own paraglider. When I heard about them, my friend Austin and I immediately picked one off ebay and bought it. Normally they're very expensive, but ours was reasonably priced. We didn't know why at the time, but it turns out it's because it's a competition glider. That means that everything is sacrificed for the sake of speed including safety, maneuverability, and ease of use.
I posted to some newsgroups asking for advice, but no one would give me any useful information. They all insisted that I had to take lessons or would likely kill myself. Austin bought a book about paragliding that explained some of the basics and reiterated the warning that no one should attempt to paraglide without instruction.
When the paraglider came, there was no way we were going to let something like complete lack of skill stop us. At least I wasn't - Austin sensibly declined to fly in it without lessons. The book warned not to attempt to glide in winds over 14mph. I checked the weather report and decided that 23mph was close enough. We headed towards the local middle school's soccer field.
The paraglider was alot more complicated than we thought. It has hundreds of feet of lines connecting the harness to the wing. Even the harness itself was impossible to figure out. It appeared to be more of a chair than a harness. Austin and another friend, Matt, worked on unraveling the lines and wing while I tried to figure out how to attach myself to the seat-harness.
All of a sudden the wind gusted and began to inflate the wing.
Before we knew what was going on 3/4 of the wing was inflated and was whipped into the air. One corner of it was still tangled and wouldn't inflate, so the wing didnt form the right shape. In it's deformed state, it lifted me off the ground.
Oh - did I mention that I was wearing flip flops, a t-shirt, and shorts?
Because of it's awkward shape, the paraglider came crashing down in front of me and lurched forward. I fell back down and began to be pulled across the field. Austin and Matt ran after the wing and jumped on it, finally managing to deflate it.
Unfortunately I had sprained my ankle and broken at least one toe. For about a week I could barely walk.
You might think I've learned my lesson, but after writing this I am inspired to try again. When I saw the rattlesnake I also discovered a HUGE field that will be perfect for this. I had pictures of this original incident, but I can't find them for the life of me, so stay tuned for a video of me trying again.
Mate, if you've not killed yourself trying to fly your competition wing already I strongly recommend you get proper training or sell it on to someone who knows what they are doing. A very good pilot and friend of mine was killed last year with over 200hrs flight time; this sport comes with serious risks and that's when you've been taught by the experts. It is an awesome sport and I can't fault you for wanting to try it, but get a DVH 1 wing first and get trained, you'll then enjoy it for what this sport can really offer.
My parents have an airfield here in SA where we have the national powered paragliding champs. YOu thought it was bad just having the sail - try strapping an engine to your back. They are very dangerous though and i strongly recommend staying away from powerlines. Two of our close friends died in october flying into igh voltage powerlines. Next time you want to fly try microlighting - a lot safer and just as fun :)
Why don't you come to South Africa and we'll teach you to fly a microlight?
My father is a paraglider, and has always tried to get me into it. I didn't like it because I thought, oh, it would be super exciting [i'm FLYING!!] and such but after going on a tandem flight it's one of the most peaceful things in the world to do, everything's so quiet. I didn't need more relaxants in my life then, i needed more excitement (plus an money sink...).
Anyway, kiting (just moving around with the thing over your head on a flat field) around without lessons is an ok thing to do, but please, please PLEASE do not attempt to launch w/o knowing what your doing, and if your really going to be stupid, at least practice on a small hill first. I've had my dad's instrutor's friend fall to his death because he didn't secure his harness properly one time (the crotch strap) and recently one guy who was rusty didn't do a launch properly and had to be carried away for several fractures and breaks in nasty spots and his stuff spread all over the forest.
Dude how much was the glider in $? And how much are beginners leasons? How much is your life worth? Dont be stupid man, brave is one thing, advenuturous another but supid is a stupid does! I got a friend who was werry exerienced and he kot kille on that thing. Take leasons!!!!
Girls usually liked me, but often times I would screw something up along the way. I was far less confident and had no idea how to start a conversation.
If you're wondering why I always put my name in the topics of these things, it's not because I have a huge ego. I do have a huge ego, but I do it so that my name gets better search rankings in google. My goal is for people to be able to search for "Tynan" and for my site to be number one. Soon. If you want to help, like the almighty Magnus, you can link to my blog and put my name in the link.
Today Doug, Steve, Steve's (ex?) girlfriend, Todd and I headed down to Canyon Lake, TX to do some tubing. You see, I bought the sweetest tube ever to bring to the lake. The thing actually flies 15 feet in the air behind the boat. I think I wrote about it before, but I'm not sure. Anyway, the first time we tried I skipped along the water, but didn't really take flight because my weak human lungs couldn't inflate the tube enough.
Today before going to the lake I bought two different pumps to ensure that the thing would actually inflate. As it turned out, the boat rental place had a sweet air compressor, negating the need for our own pumps. Oh well... you owe me one (two?), Wal Mart. Our rental boat was a shoddy looking boat most certainly manufactured before 1990 which was apparently very fast. The interior was a coccoon of brightly colored vinyl couches covered by a weathered bimini top. I climbed aboard and with the help of Todd, tied the monsterous tube to the boat.
The safety harness clicked in place and I felt the wind rush to my face inviting me to fall down with it. I was ebullient, yet tense and anxious at the same time.
“Almost done.” Informed the man behind me, in a very perfunctory manner, “Now be careful, ok? No fooling around whilst you are in the air or you can plummet down further than you are meant to and that could result in big accidents! You understand?” He questioned, a fetid smell arousing from his breath.
I nodded my head, taking in a deep, shaky breath.
“Good.” Came the reply, “Now, you are ready to go…oh wait! You forgot your-“