Sep. 18th, 2011

dreaminghope: (Sunspot)
While Russ and I were in Las Vegas this past weekend, three more students graduated from the novice licensing program from iParaglide. Ducky, Jim, and Simon were all people we'd been carpooling, kiting, and flying with frequently, so Russ, Craig, and I have been hoping to have many adventures with them post-graduation too. To that end, we've been plotting our first supervision-free flights, hopefully for next weekend or the weekend after.

Russ and I have been flying with our school since our graduations, because Russ has been playing landing coach every flyable weekend. It has its advantages, not the least of which is an automatic non-flying driver in the form of our teacher, but it means that we don't necessarily feel like independent pilots. In order to really feel like we've graduated, we need to fly without our teacher around.

I did take one step towards that feeling recently. I was the last of our group to launch on one of the rounds. As I was setting my wing up, our teacher headed down to pick the students back up for the next round. For the first time, I was on my own: I was going to launch without my teacher within sight. To further increase the pressure, there were many experienced pilots on launch, including some tandem pilots and teachers from another paragliding school. Luckily, the conditions were ones I am very comfortable with - low winds for a forward launch - and there was one friendly face on launch: Mark, a pilot I flew with last year when he was finishing his novice license and I was starting mine.

After we both landed, Mark told me that it was a good launch, but I already knew that. I brought the wing up evenly, checked it well, and ran down into a smooth flight. I even got a bit of lift as I played around in front of the ridge.

The next step is a new novice flying adventure. Our teacher isn't going to be at the mountain next weekend, so it'll just be us, with our shiny new licenses, making our own decisions, launching and landing ourselves, being pilots.

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dreaminghope

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