I'm slightly more than a week into the paragliding course in Sumner outside Christchurch. The weather conditions have been almost ideal and seven days of flying has given me 37 solo flights! I can't believe how far I've been able to come in just a week. The learning curve, once you get consecutive days in the air, is very steep. In LEARNING TO FLY I described my first launch and flight which was an utterly unreal experience. It just keeps getting better and this week there's been a constant smile on my face. I can't get enough, I just want to stay up there. It's a ridiculous high.
On three different occasions the wind has been strong enough to soar and hover. In the right conditions it's possible to stay up hour after hour. The wind shoots into the valley and when pushed over the ridge it creates thermal which lifts wing, harness and pilot like a natural elevator. A feeling that tickles swinging legs and gut. At most I stayed up close to half an hour, soaring back and forth above the grassy slopes at Taylor's Mistake. It's a good feeling, you start trusting the gear and your own ability. It's a thrilling ride!
Above and below: That's me.
Every single night the past week I've had vivid dreams of flying. It's taking over my mind completely and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. My travel fatigue is long gone and I'm excited that I have plenty of time ahead of me on New Zealand! I still haven't found a long term solution for accommodation in Christchurch so at the moment I'm considering buying and moving into a van for the summer. We'll see what happens.
Getting ready for a forward launch in light wind. Wing comes up as I push forward. I release the A-lines but keep the brakes in my hands at shoulder level behind my back. Push hard, run fast, commit yourself to leaving ground.
Once clearly in the air and away from the slope I get into the harness. By leaning my body from side to side and applying brake I can steer. I keep a bit of brake pressure to feel what the wing is doing above.
Most students in the course are locals available evenings or weekends which has given me a lot of valuable time during weekdays with my nearly private instructors Grey and Dave. Together, they have more than 40 years of paragliding experience and they are more than keen to share and show which is great. On the agenda for upcoming adventure week: MORE FLYING! Don't miss my previous post (FREDRIKA) and make sure to follow THE ESCAPE on Facebook!