Returning To The Skies
Getting back into paragliding after a break is difficult for a lot of us. Once I had gone through the mental process of deciding I wanted to fly again I needed to figure out how to go about it safely. In this post I aim to highlight how I returned to paragliding after a long winter break.
I love setting goals and when returning to any sport it is important to set realistic goals, this will give focus and prevent you from getting frustrated or disappointing. My goals were;
Get as much flying in over the course of a week.
Become comfortable on my new wing (I jumped from the Niviuk Koyot 2 to the BGD Base, A to high B)
Perfect my take offs
I was living in Moscow, and had a set 10 days off work. I didn’t fancy my chances with the weather in either Russia or England and knew I wanted to go somewhere where the weather was somewhat predicable. It was also important that the take off and landing areas were nice and big and the flying was relatively straight forward. I decided to head to Tolmin, Slovenia.
I definitely did not want to go to a new site in a foreign country alone and I certainly did not want to base my first week back into paragliding on the hope that it would all work out. Especially after 8 months of not flying, and, with a new wing. I knew that I needed an instructor/ guide with me, at least for the first couple of days. I considered booking a 121 guide and looked at all of the different courses in Tolmin, I then came across a guided group with xTc Paragliding that fitted my dates really well, was within budget and had excellent reviews. It was perfect!
How it went
I couldn’t have asked for a better week. Our guide Stan Radzikowski was excellent, the other people on the course were lovely and we flew every single day. We had weather briefings, site briefings and the wonderful Bruce as our driver to take us to and from launches and landings. The flying itself was so much fun. There were times when it felt so natural to be in the air but also times were I felt I was pushed and challenged.
On the 3rd day we were flying in somewhat turbulent air, I had a big collapse close to the ridge and it scared me, I was afraid to go back to that same spot for a while. It was a huge reassurance to have Stan on the radio talking me through my mistakes to prevent it from happening again and encouraging me not to be afraid. In addition I was given feedback on my take offs (my first few weren't very pretty!), which helped me improve over the course of the week (and as a result achieve one of my goals!)
The two sites we went to were Kobala and Lijak. Both were lovely sites with big take offs and landings. Over the course of the week I became more and more comfortable on my wing and, with the help of Stan began to push further down the ridge, particularly at Lijak. It was here that within one week of being back in the air I had achieved a new PB; 50km.
Going to Tolmin with a guided group made the whole experience of getting back in the air far less daunting and all the xTc guys were wonderfully helpful. It was also so nice to be able to share the flying experience with others and to have people to hang out with. Returning to paragliding after 8 months of looking up at the sky and dreaming of flying is one of the best things I have done this year and am so happy that paragliding is once again part of my life.