The springtime sees more accidents than any other season — generally, because pilots are rusty from a winter on the ground. If you’ve had a long season of sporadic flying (or none at all), there are plenty of factors you can address to put luck on your side.
One of the reasons we see a long of spring-season accidents is that rusty pilots are so gung-ho to fly, they push it — way too hard.
If you haven’t flown for a while, don’t jump the gun. Start with mellow flights. Take a step backward and reacquaint yourself with the air — you’ll likely be glad you did.
Review What You Know
Take a moment to refresh your PG knowledge.
Remember that the thermals tend to be stronger in spring than every other time of year, and the lapse rate can be very high (because of the bigger temperature differential between the middle of the night and midday). Both aspects of spring paragliding tend to surprise a lot of people, leading to a sky full of spooked pilots. You don’t have to be one of them — review your student syllabus and refresh your knowledge of the technical aspects of the sport.
Speaking of refreshers: don’t be embarrassed to show up for a brush-up lesson. Think about it: if you haven’t been scuba diving for a while, you won’t rent gear and splash right in for a wreck dive. The same is true — perhaps, even more so — for paragliding.
Get your gear checked at the Cloud 9 loft.
Prepare Your Gear
Get your glider in for its annual inspection. When your glider sits in the garage over the winter season, latent moisture can cause lines to shrink.
Not convinced you need a repack? Heed us. Paraglider manuals generally recommend that a reserve be repacked twice a year. We generally acknowledge that once per year is adequate for the more casual pilot.
Whenever you have your reserve repacked, we recommend hanging from a simulator and tossing…just to see what happens. Though it’s convenient to do this from a simulator — like ours — it’s perfectly fine to do this at home and ship the rig to a loft for a repack.
The kicker (and you may find this out for yourself) is this: one in ten reserves don’t come out when the person tries to throw.
A Repack = Health Insurance. Really.
Common causes of this deeply unsettling malfunction can be improper installation, corrosion on the deployment pin (especially, though not exclusively, for coastal fliers) and deep creases, or “memory,” that cause the reserve to come out as a non-unfurling brick. (The latter is usually due to moisture in the reserve container causing the nylon to adhere to itself.)
Your reserve: will it be ready when you need it?
The Cloud 9 loft has also seen two reserves that were not connected to the paraglider whatsoever. (And no, we did NOT pack the reserves in question.)
Another nauseating story from the Cloud 9 loft: we had a customer come in from Europe to fly at the Point of the Mountain. His glider had a note tucked into the seat informing him that customs had inspected his luggage. He at first was planning to fly without the repack, but took his rig in on a lark.
The rigger pulled his reserve, and a ball of knotted lines plopped onto the floor. It turns out that customs had pulled it out, checked it, then tied it in knots, shoved it back in and carefully closed the reserve flap. (We don’t like to think about how the story would have played out if he’d needed it.)
The Moral of the Story
We know you want to fly — really badly, as soon as possible. Think about it this way, though: if you set yourself up intelligently, you’ll enjoy many more years of crazy, bumpy springtime air than if you pass on the minimal investment of time and resources it takes to be safe.
No matter where in the world you happen to be, we’re happy to inspect your rig, repack your reserve and dole out any advice you seek! Drop us a line or call the shop at +1 801-576-6460