PROGRESSIV SIV & XC 2006
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Julian Rayner Skywings Article September 2006
SKYWINGS :: SEPTEMBER 2006
by Julian Rayner
I qualified as a Club Pilot in the summer of 2005 through one of the schools on the South Downs in England. Even though I'd been through the training, I didn't feel very confident when flying and was always conscious that, if anything went wrong, I had little clue and absolutely no practical experience of how to deal with it. I didn't understand what my glider was capable of doing and what its limits were. As a result I would fly in a state of tension, controlling the glider gingerly for fear of doing something which would cause me to fall out of the sky.
Flying in this state of mind, I felt that I was exposing myself to more risk than I ought to have been. I wanted to feel safer, so when someone suggested doing an SIV course I decided to look into it. I leafed through my copy of Skywings and contacted a few of the SIV course providers. After several telephone conversations and e-mails, I decided to go to Oludeniz in Turkey with Carlo Borsattino of Flybubble Paragliding. From what I'd read and seen on DVD, Oludeniz looked like the perfect place, with its good weather, high, nearby mountain and seaside location. And a number of people had told me that Carlo was one of the best instructors around.
I booked the course months in advance, so by the time it came around I was itching to go and had a clear idea of what I wanted get out of it. At the start of the course I had only 16 post-CP flights under my belt and three hours total airtime. My objectives were to learn what my glider was capable of, to understand how to handle dangerous situations and to get a taste of cross-countrying.
It didn't take long for me to realise that I'd made a good choice as far as the course was concerned. A couple of days before departure I received a detailed itinerary and some coaching notes. I wanted to squeeze as much as I could out of the trip and when I read what was in store it was clear that there was the potential to achieve a great deal. I also had to complete a questionnaire about my flying experience, my kit and my insurance. Up to that point I had learned that paragliding training could be rather haphazard, but this felt thorough and well-organised, which I liked.
Our party consisted of Carlo, Chris Joel, a Southern Club coach, John Cardiff, our cameraman, and four trainees including me. It was a small group and we all got on well, to the extent that we spent pretty much all of our time together, so there was plenty of time to tap into the more experienced pilots' experience, which was an unexpected bonus.
Our hotel in Oludeniz was right on the beach, about 200m from the landing area. Besides its great location it was excellent value for money and, as my waistline will testify, the quality of the food was outstanding. After a short rest I asked Carlo to check my kit. I'd bought a lot of new stuff since qualifying but no experienced pilot had ever checked it all to make sure it was correctly set up. I would have been happy with a quick once-over but Carlo and Chris pored over it for an hour. I was very impressed and felt more confident about what was coming up in the days ahead knowing that those guys had given my kit the thumbs-up.
After lunch, Carlo gave us our first briefing on a reconnaissance flight we were going to make that afternoon from the top of Babadag, the nearby mountain with launch sites from 5,600 to 6,500ft. We walked over to the beach landing area and discussed how to approach it from the air. Then, because another trainee, Paul, and I had low airtime, Carlo and Chris decided to check out our ground-handling on the beach to make sure we were good enough to take up the mountain.
Our first flight was a gentle 30-minute glide back to Oludeniz beach. Up to that point my flying experience had been limited to a handful of low altitude, ridge-soaring flights in southern England, so the combination of height, solitude, warm air and fantastic views made it truly exhilarating.
The next day started with a briefing on our first SIV flight: collapses. Shortly afterwards Carlo headed off in his speedboat to his position in the bay, ready to scoop us out of the water if things went wrong, while the rest of us took the 50-minute trip up the mountain. After launching from the highest take-off and a ten-minute glide, I was approaching the bay and was ready to start the manoeuvres.
The great thing about Oludeniz is that you have so much height in which to do your manoeuvres: by the time you reach the bay there's normally at least 4,000ft between you and the sea. ???OK Julian,??? says Carlo on the radio. ???Pull down sharply on the A risers on your right to induce an asymmetric collapse. Ready??