You will all know by now the very sad news of Pete’s death. It’s a shock to his family and everyone who knew him. What I want to do is to make a tribute to him in the December Bulletin . Can everyone who knew Pete and wants to make a contribution to the bulletin dig out any photographs, newspaper or magazine cuttings or the like, along with a few lines of recollections, stories or anecdotes etc. and send them to me. As a club we should be proud of his achievements and as individuals we should be privileged to have known him. Our bulletins may be floating around the internet until the end of time, so, who knows, in a thousand years’ time people may read about what we write about Pete now. Won’t that be a legacy.
BHGC tribute here which has the Skywings profile.
The next club meeting will be on Tuesday 10th December at The Classic Airforce Museum.
Minutes of the Last Meeting
The minutes of the meeting will be here somewhere/sometime
Submitted by Phippsy.
Quotation of the Month
On what ruins relationships…. ” if the lies don’t do it, then the honesty will” Dean Friedman
Carbis Bay planning
Development is proposed around the Carbis Bay site. At the moment our take off/landing area is not part of the proposal, but looking longer term, it may well be. View the proposals here.
Leaders and Helpers Needed
The Club received this letter about the newly formed scout group. As a club we think we have something to offer them in many ways. If you as an individual want to offer your services, or you know someone else who might, please contact them below.
After a recent meeting with Cornish scout officers and members of CFC a date has been set for the formation of a Cornish Air Scout Group based at Bodmin Airfield.
I am appealing to members of the Cornwall Flying Club and their friends who may wish to be a part of the team as Scout Leaders or assistants using their time and knowledge to help our local young people with this new unit.
It all begins on February 1st 2014 and meetings will be held once a month on a Saturday afternoon and they will initially use our CFC facilities until a scout hut is built. Young people will be invited from all over Cornwall and this will certainly spread the word of our great little airfield.
Please contact me if you wish to help or if you have any useful suggestions.
Cornwall Flying Club
The BHPA latest news release is here. the BHPA Bulletin is here. The events calendar is here, and the BHPA homepage is here. The link to Skywings magazine is here. Download the new BHPA Elementary Training Guide here.
Phippsy came across this in relation to a recent Hang Gliding accident involving several factors any one of which may have helped to avoid the life changing consequences if someone not directly involved had said something. –
I Chose to Look the Other Way
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care,
I had the time, and I was there.
But I didn’t want to seem a fool,
Or argue over a safety rule.
I knew he’d done the job before,
If I called it wrong, he might get sore.
The chances didn’t seem that bad,
I’ve done the same, he knew I had.
So I shook my head and walked on by,
He knew the risks as well as I.
He took the chance, I closed an eye,
And with that act, I let him die.
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
Now every time I see his wife,
I’ll know I should have saved his life.
That guilt is something I must bear,
But it isn’t something you need to share.
If you see a risk that others take,
That puts their health or life at stake.
The question asked, or thing you say,
Could help them live another day.
If you see a risk and walk away,
Then I hope you never have to say,
I could have saved a life that day,
But I chose to look the other way.
— By Don Merrell
This article reproduced from XC Mag #148 www.xcmag.com
A group of us in the pub were discussing the churn rate in paragliding. In most countries where paragliding is well established the numbers joining the sport are roughly balanced with the numbers leaving. So despite all the new pilots coming out of school with their fresh crinkly gliders and their fresh crinkly licences, the total numbers stay about the same. Those of us around the table couldn’t really fathom why so many people drop out, but none of us are in a good position to judge; we are all hopeless addicts! Without any hard data to hand we speculated and just weren’t convinced that the external factors like jobs, unsupportive partners, money, family pressures or new interests were enough on their own to account for the haemorrhage of good people.
Talking to a group of new pilots on the day they got signed out of school reminded me of the almost manic enthusiasm that I and many others had in those heady early days. Perhaps the reason that people drop out is that over time the enthusiasm wanes to a point where the obstacles eventually win the day. What characterises all of those pilots coming out of school is they are all on
the upward curve; they are learning, progressing, getting better, succeeding. Wind the clock on a year or three and the same can not necessarily be said of those same pilots. They hit the buffers, they reach a plateau, they are no longer on the journey to being good. Perhaps that is a big part of the picture?
More drinks. The conversation wandered and then eyes started to light up again. What makes pilots “good?” How do they get there? What helps them get that feeling of reward that keeps you going in the sport? I decided to set about trying to find out more about what pilots think.
“Good” can be a relative term so I spoke to pilots of all abilities and unsurprisingly there was a wide range of opinions. To some it means being world champion; to others it means being able to fly safely on local sites in reasonable conditions; to another group, admiration from peers is highly valued.
The first surprise is just how long most pilots take to get to a level that they considered good. Dav Dagault from France — Ozone designer and test pilot, competitor and adventurer — has too many successes to mention, but how does second-place in the first ever Red Bull X-Alps and one of the first pilots to tumble a paraglider grab you? Dav had a lot going for him. He was brought up in the Alps and climbed with his father from the age of six. Immersed in the mountains, hiking, mountaineering and skiing, he started flying at the age of 12 — a natural progression from everything else. As a young adventurer, Dav led a full life but he still thinks it took him six years to get to a standard he felt was good in paragliding. The crux came at the age of 18 when he managed to qualify for the French ‘A’competitions and finished a remarkable third.
British squad member John Ellison tells a similar story in terms of time span. For the first few years he managed about 50 hours a year and although his skills were developing he didn’t feel it was a rapid process. Then a change happened: he started hanging out with the top local XC pilots. John’s perspective widened hugely and his upward learning curve steepened. This is a recurrent theme: if you want to learn fast it really helps to hook up with good pilots.
What was important in both John’s and Dav’s cases is that they served a pretty long apprenticeship and built a really sound skill base. This was the springboard for future success.
Progressing too quickly
In contrast to this is the relatively tiny number of pilots who get very good, very fast. One apparently massively talented pilot, we’ll call him John, burst onto the competition scene a few years ago. Even in his first few tasks he did well and he out-flew some top pilots. Then the (almost) inevitable hiccup came, which coincided with the arrival of an even hotter wing at the start of the new season. Half-way through the season, frustrated with some less sparkling results, John crashed and injured his back. Although now fully fit, he has never again been the same pilot.
We can speculate about the accident and its causes but what John could well have lacked was the time and experience that it takes to become a rounded pilot. Try to rush it and there will be gaps. Pilots who progress too rapidly scare me because all too often it leads to tears. I have heard it said more than a few times of fast-rising new arrivals: “He/she is very good, very lucky or heading for an accident”.
The current European Champion Yassen Savoy’s story of his early flying career is pretty hairy (See Cross Country Issue 144). Starting at the age of 15, he progressed pretty fast in spite of, or because of leaping onto a rather dodgy prototype wing and flying with no reserve. In Yassen’s own words, “I realise now how lucky I am to have survived:’
Starting young certainly has its advantages but there are plenty of pilots who are well into adulthood when they start and go on to become very high-level pilots. What comes through strongly for me when speaking to Yassen for this article is the dedication to the cause and love that Yassen has shown over his 15-year flying career. Also, Yassen’s committed racing style indicates a fantastic spirit to go with the talent he has been nurturing from a young age.
Breaking through the ceiling
I know another pilot who came into paragliding from sailing at a very high level. Clearly a capable and competitive sportsman, he progressed quickly and saw himself becoming a champion. As he got closer to that goal it became harder to make progress and eventually the ultimate aim started to look too distant. Although his talent and aptitude are at least on a par with his peers who entered the sport at the same time, he has now given up. Several of his mates who kept going have developed in different directions with their flying — they have become good pilots and show what is possible with staying power.
In February 2013 at the PWC in Porterville, South Africa, Colin Hawke won the first task. This is Colin’s best achievement so far, but is definitely no flash in the pan. He had been dabbling in flying since the early 1990s, although he didn’t really get serious until 2007. From that point onwards he has averaged about 200 hours a year. But not just any old 200 hours. Each year Colin carefully selects trips that allow him to fly with great pilots or guides in a wide variety of challenging locations worldwide. Then, by entering competitions regularly, he added new dimensions to his flying. He believes that an important part of learning is going to the edge of your comfort zone and at times a bit beyond it.
Seek out the new
For many pilots with less opportunity to travel internationally there might still be easy access to a huge variety of flying. In the alpine regions, the Greek Peloponnese, the UK, parts of the Iberian mainland, parts of Scandinavia and many other well-developed flying areas, a few hours’ drive can take you to many new places, for new experiences and new adventures. A common feature amongst good pilots, be it at a local or a global level, is a willingness to travel rather than just sticking to the familiar sites and routes.
For many, driving a few hours is just the tip of the iceberg of sacrifices that they make. Actually “sacrifice” is not the right word. Move house, change job, ditch the non-flying related social life, sell the flashy car, risk your relationships; these are all things that dedicated pilots have been known to do. But by and large, none of it feels much like hardship because it is just part of the obsession, part of the process of becoming good.
Are there exceptions to the amount of time and experience that it takes to become really good? Can you fast-track your flying learning curve? I thought I had found an example at the PWC Superfinal in Colombia in January. At just 20 years old, Laurie Genovese (Niviuk ABAC team pilot) seems to have had a meteoric rise to fame. Dig a little deeper though and we find that she has been flying since she was 14 — it’s that five or six year learning curve again. Her father also works in the sport. Even though she was getting plenty of airtime, she moved to Annecy in the French Alps so that she could fly with even more intensity. Describing flying as “in my genes” in an interview with Cross Country last year (issue 143) she also revealed she had managed to combine her sport with her studies. She went on an FFVL sponsored course that counted towards her school studies, and now her university course in PE (physical education) takes account of her status as a competition pilot. She wants to focus on sports psychology and high-level sports training. In Colombia she casually commented that she has also benefited from flying with good pilots around her. Who are her close flying buddies, I asked? “Oh, Charles Cazaux,” she replied the current World Champion.
What’s love got to do with it?
Love. What has love got to do with it? Quite a lot actually! Time and time again, good pilots talk about their love of flying. Maybe this is the key, but only if it’s the fight kind of love.
It is OK to love the craic, travelling, lifestyle and the gear, but above all, you have to love the flying for its own sake. However talented you are, however favourable your upbringing, however good your role models, it is the love that will drive you on to learn more and get better, it is the love that will keep you going through knocks and the hard times, it is the love that will drive you towards being a good pilot.
It is fair to recognise that only a proportion of us can hit the heights that Laurie, Yassen, Dav et al are reaching. But what I am convinced of is that they combine great dedication and steely determination with their undoubted talent. For all of us, it is really just a matter of getting reasonably close to realising our potential. In every flying club across the world you will find wonderful pilots who might not be grabbing headlines with competition wins, gut-busting acro moves, massive XC flights or wilderness adventures. But they have put in the time, gained the experience and have turned into really solid pilots who love the sport and are in it for the long game.
To be fair, there probably isn’t really a fast-track in free flight after all. We will achieve what we achieve, through love, dedication, enthusiasm, hard work, seeking out the right environments and opportunities and through being organised. A dose of talent certainly helps, but we don’t have to be like Chrigel Maurer — we just need a reasonable level of aptitude and the rest is up to us.
Pat Dower www.patdower.co.uk
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