I flew again! (I never cease to be amazed at that statement), and here for your amusement are the fruits of my labor, and by labor I mean fun times! I have put together a little video of my Paramotoring adventure in Mexico yesterday (it even has a deleted scene at the end), and hope you enjoy watching me fly even a smidgeon as much as I enjoyed flying! Let me know what you think in the comments below, or don’t, no pressure, but do… pressure.
*Change to 1080p at the little gearbox in the corner of the video for best viewing.
I sometimes have a very hard time motivating myself to do things, even if it is something I really want to do, in this case Paramotoring. Even though we are in the perfect place to fly right now I still hesitate every time. To be fair to myself it is a little too hot and rather than being an excuse it has been my lifelong cross to bear that I overheat at the drop of a hat. God bless air conditioning. Also I do worry a little bit about the very localized weather here as I am not very good at reading the sky just yet, and some odd turbulence has grabbed me a few times while I have been flying and shaken me about like a floating toy with a high pitched scream (toys scream right?).
Other than that though I couldn’t ask for much more. It starts cooling down in La Penita (just a little bit) at around five pm and the sun goes down at around nine pm, which gives me a good four hours to get a flight in. Sarah and I found the perfect place to launch from about twenty minutes drive from us where there are hardly any people, and aside from some poles which I am always in the air by the time I reach, there is a nice open sandy-grassy type field leading right out to the Pacific Ocean.
The wind picks up to a gentle three to five miles per hour around this time which makes launching and climbing pretty easy. In the mornings there is very little wind, and what wind there is blows out to sea so it is less than ideal for flying as I have to run like a gazelle trained in the arts of ballet and the one hundred meter sprint to get into the air (yes I truly am that graceful, watch the video if you don’t believe me). I did it anyway though as I was hoping it would help me overcome the afternoon lethargy which I have a hard time shaking in my middling years.
I have to run like a graceful gazelle when there is no wind
The beach is a long one, and at this time of year and at this particular spot North of the main town, there is hardly anything around. A couple houses and the occassional local riding the dogs or walking the horses (sometimes I like to change reality around in my head a bit), but other than that sand and grass fields stretch all along between the beach and the strip of jungle before the main road, which itself runs alongside the foot of the mountains.
I mention all this because I still manage to find excuses to put the Paramotoring off, even with this perfect spot.
A few of my excuses are valid of course. I am playing it safe with the weather and I popped my shoulder out the other day and am having to rest it between flights or it gets pretty bad (middling age, what are you gonna do right), but to be honest, I am still scared of flying.
I am scared because there are so many things which could go wrong and if they did they could have very serious consequences. To add to that I am more scared because I am the one responsible for making sure they don’t go wrong! Almost everything I have ever had as hobby in life before Powered Paragliding has involved screens, hard-drives and software. There is not a lot of risk involved with being a digital nerd!
I know very little about engines that don’t have the word game in front of them, and after my previous scare in Guatemala when the Paramotor actually blew and I had to walk miles in the growing darkness to get back to my launch zone, I am very aware of the possibility that it could happen again. Too aware I think as it is often the main thing I am thinking about. This is not necessarily bad as having a landing spot planned could save my life if it did happen again, but it has definitely left a stain on my early days of Paramotoring which I am slowly but surely working through.
Don’t get me wrong though, I love being in the air! I am never more excited or more in the moment than when my feet leave the ground and I shift into my seat, and eventually the fear will go.
I know this because it is going more and more every time I fly. The better I get and the more focused I become, the more the joy takes over from the fear. I am also becoming a safer pilot as instead of just hanging on for dear life I am actually thinking more about what I am doing and checking all my straps and buckles are secure while in flight. I feel what the wind is doing to my Paramotor wing and react to it instead of getting freaked out every time it bucks me around a bit.
Basically I am becoming a better pilot.
On todays flight I even practiced some things rather than just flying around for a bit looking at the scenery. I practiced tightening up my turns, which would help if I needed to land unexpectedly or in a tight spot. I also practiced flying low and trying to maintain a certain height rather than constantly going up or down, which is a lot trickier than you might think.
I was even going to launch and land an extra few times in one session for extra practice, but the turbulence got freaky as the wind began picking up and changing direction so I had to make the decision to stop (they have a saying in the flying world, “Better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground.”).
Doing some low flying practice along the beach
It was a shame I didn’t go up again because a large group of birds seemed to be attracted to my wing in the air and had started circling near me. I was keen to get back up there with them and float around, maybe even try catching the thermals they were gliding in, that would have been pretty amazing. Next time.
All in all it was a great flight yesterday morning, and one I very nearly didn’t do because the nerves were getting the best of me. Fortunately Sarah said I had to fly or I would be miserable for the rest of the day (she was correct), and so I did. I am lucky to have her pushing me sometimes. I tend to have the crazy ideas, but she is often the one making sure I go through with the things I start. It works!
So I am definitely getting better. I am no doubt still a beginner in the world of Paramotoring, but I am improving rapidly. I just need to keep my nerve and try to maintain the engine as best I can. I need to keep pushing myself (or getting pushed) to get down to that beach, get the Paramotor set up, and run like hell because despite my reservations and anxieties, I have never done or felt anything more exhilarating than that moment when the ground falls away and the sky gets nearer.
It just goes to show that the best things in life really are the things you have to work hardest for (except carbohydrates, those are easy to get and they are the best things in life, also, I am on a diet right now…)
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