“First” flight off Tiger – Paragliding

Well, first flight off Tiger in years… just getting back into training. It was gorgeous yesterday and the place was packed.

All pics from yesterday are on flickr.

So – here’s how it works, at least at Seattle Paragliding, for your first solo flight.

First – you hang out at the LZ for a while waiting for the van ride up the hill to come together. It’s a good time to watch landings. Yesterday was really cool – tons of hang gliders out (I’ve never seen them at the LZ before [but I don’t go there that often either]).

Tiger LZ

Tiger LZ

You then pile in the van. If this doesn’t convince you to do the 45 minute hike then you’re definitely not a hiker. I won’t be in that van again :)

Going up the hill

You then proceed to do a very short walk to the next van that takes you up a rough dirt road to the launch.

Going up the hill

Going up the hill

Then there’s more para-waiting at launch (I’m not complaining, para-waiting is kind of fun).

Tiger Launch

Tiger Launch

Tiger Launch

Then there’s initiation. Marc goes out of his way to make the first time solo pilots feel special. This involves face paint, pink helmets, disco balls, huge streamers and a constant search for the blooper of the day (i.e. failed launch, failed landing, some “fail”). It’s all pretty funny and helps take your mind off the fact that you’re about to jump off a perfectly good mountain.

Tiger Launch

Marc doing LZ approach
Marc explains the LZ approach… everyone very serious in pink helmets and war paint.

Tiger Launch
They then angel launch you off the hill. They control inflation and stabilization of the glider… once you’re flying paragliding is pretty simple, but launch isn’t. At other schools I’ve been too we spent a lot of time practicing “kiting” and were never helped like this at launch.

Gumby
Yours truly before launch.

I didn’t take any pictures while in flight… you’re on radio and they’re instructing you to do practice maneuvers the entire time. The flight was really fun. I was a bit nervous since I had zero experience with the kite I was on (normally you’d practice kiting and do a few training hill runs to get a feel for how the specific kite works). But, everything went smoothly. They talk you in on the landing and I managed to touch down very smoothly… a very good first landing.

Again, not complaining, but, for the record, I was there from 2pm to 8pm and did a 10 minute flight. I think about the fastest you could do this kind of thing would be 2-3 hours (that’s if you hiked up – 1 hour). If conditions aren’t soarable that means you’re doing a 10 minutes sled ride – if they are soarable you could be up for hours thoughs.