Marc Chirico, Seattle Paragliding

Marc is a polarizing personality. It didn’t take me long to size him up and know I had come to the right place for my PG training.  He’s a very busy man during the flying season, there are times when he can relax a little, and discuss both old and new, it might be a time around the fire pit after a day of flying.

There’s so much to learn. A key element of Paragliding is knowing about the  weather, the different kinds of lift and a whole lot more, all interesting topics for the majority in our movement.

I listened to this NPR interview for the first time just last night after closing my email and adding a few items to one of my question and answer Lists, I then wrapped up the evening an prepared to turn in.

As I lay in bed and thought about Marc’s young life, I recalled my own dreams of flight, I had vivid flying dreams as well,….. as real as real!  I remember an experiment at about 8 years old… I tried to ‘will’ myself into the air by mustering total concentration on the effort. No surprise to you, but my feet never left the ground. I wonder how many in the Paragliding Community experienced similar childhood dreams? What about our DIYer group? It seems we have so much in common, just start talking to another DIYer and see where the conversation leads.

Some of my closest DIYer friends follow along as I learn the very basics of PG flight, and here’s a few observations from my last wonderful flight off Tiger Mountain South East of Seattle this week.

An interesting observation? After being in the air for a bit, (solo flight #9 for me) my subconscious has accepted the fact that it’s OK to be up there.  Looking past my shoes at the ground far below is now just a normal thing.  Skimming the mountain side looking for lift gives you a very different perspective of trees, when I think about them, I reflect on Marc’s excitement about being a student again! I’m 62 years old, and this is all new, it reminds me of the joy I found in learning to ride a bicycle at four years old, how exciting that was, but this is even better!

When I launched last, there was a calm in my mind, no need to dedicate a slice of worry time as to how I would correct for a gust of wind, or which way I would turn.  These items have been turned over to a part of my mind outside of the high priority ‘worry bin’ that gives you the taste of adrenaline and a more rapid heart rate.

With every flight, there’s more time to think about and observe the finer points.  I actually listen to the Vario now and even look over at the display and read my elevation. Since my flight #8 landing required big ears to increase my sink rate in order to hit the LZ, I concentrated intently on the wind sock this time and worked to gather more data for my internal fledgling flight computer.

On this flight I had time to become amazed at how good the glide ratio actually was,  the fact (after closer observation) ‘there was an element of lift’ down here closer to the ground, and my glide on the final downwind leg needed to be longer. Another element (head wind) appeared light, of course I had noted that above too as my ground speed was not drastically different running north VS south. There’s a lot to look at and dream about aloft, Allowing yourself to get carried too far downwind from the LZ means you might need the skills to land at an alternative spot, when you don’t have those skills mastered yet, it’s best to limit your day dreams to short ones.

As I close, I know much of the time in my final days may have been filled with regret for not having perused a life long dream of flight.  Those who have no fascination with flight will never understand. Their brains are wired differently and for them security and safety is likely the higher priority. There are many who would trade security for freedom, and none of us need venture out of our hobbit holes to note the contest that has gone on for ages. Just what percentage of us DIYers cherish freedom far more than security? Will paragliding be illegal some day soon?

Life is short, but mine is now richer having known the joys of flight and having looked across a wing tip at an eagle soaring or a majestic mountain shimmering in the magic sunlight of a summer sunset. There is still much to learn and much to see, and I have not earned my wings yet.

Thank you Lord, and thank you Marc for your help. Thank you friends and family for understanding how important it is for some to fly.

Now if I closed this short post leaving you with a blissful image of a Paraglider flying off into the sunset, what would you have to remember? Isn’t it better that I share this clip of Shannon and his passenger Linda.  Shannon is a tandem pilot flying as part of Marc’s Seattle Paragliding Organization.

turn your speakers on, you gotta hear this!

Certainly you will be suprised to know that Linda came back for another flight. Yes, she even promised not to scream…. if only she could fly again!

Visit  here

All the best,

George B.

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