I'm not sure if I've been clear enough in previous posts so let me say it again; I'm slightly tired of pedaling. I'm going to do something else. Since a few months I've decided on a major change of activity and a grand finish to a long journey. I intend to learn how to fly. I'm leaving tarmac and gravel, I want to soar in the sky. I'm learning how to paraglide!
Above: Pilot at Taylors Mistake, Christchurch.
Since a couple of days I'm situated in Christchurch where I'm schooling myself with Dave and Grey at Parapro. It's already full on and so far I've managed nine solo flights at Taylors Mistake which is a sight in a beautiful valley south of Christchurch. I was stoked before the course started but now, after a nibble and taste of flying solo, I'm absolutely hooked.
Above right: The wing I've been flying.
On Thursday earlier this week I did my first launch and solo flight. I stood on the hillside with shaky and unexperienced legs listening to Grey, my instructor. The situation was surreal and deeply unnatural but I didn't hesitate for long. I pulled the wing up behind me, started running down the steep slope and committed to lifting. I lost touch of ground and suddenly I was in the air. A feeling like no other, a rush and high that I suspect will be seriously addictive. A unique minute later I landed safely in high grass, rarely have I been in such an euphoric state of mind.
Left below: Take off zone at Taylors Mistake, it's a 200 meter vertical drop to landing.
Below: I met Grey Hamilton while tandem paragliding in Nepal earlier this year. After an hour long flight in the Himalayas I was curious on how to learn myself. I stayed in touch with Grey and now he's my instructor on New Zealand. Grey is a fantastic character with more than 20 years of paragliding experience. He's got a bunch of stories.
FLY, FLY, FLY, FLY, FLY AND FLY!
I've misleadingly named my current adventure Cycling Oceania. From now on it's Flying Oceania. I have four or five months of travel on New Zealand in front of me. My bicycle is still with me and I'll use it for local transportation and perhaps some weekend trips but my main focus is obviously to fly as much as possible. Depending on wind and weather the actual course might not take more than a couple of weeks. I'll get my certificate but will still be novice, the key to learning properly is to keep flying regularly. I plan to stick around Christchurch until I feel comfortable in the air, after that there are some remarkable mountains not far away that I can't wait to explore from above.
I promise more and better photos upcoming week. Until then, this might inspire: