That was summer - that was!


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Only six short months from last spring; but then, hopes for a happy outcome to my paragliding dreams were at their nadir: the situation was ugly and nightmarish. Now I can write happily: some people believed in me, and I had the good luck to hitch myself to a first-class instructor, whose style of teaching suited me perfectly. Even the ugly duckling can fly at last.
I ordered myself some nice new equipment, and by mid-May I ventured out onto our "home green" at Pikku Huopalahti to try my first ground-handling.

Over the following weeks, while waiting for the real flying instruction to begin, ground handling became a way of life: fortunately the southerly sea-breeze often favoured the nearby fields. Local people like to take evening strolls and jogs in this area, and I drew quite a bit of attention, especially among the children, who liked to have fun running under the wing, dodging the lines as the wing fell back to ground. People gladly offered all sorts of advice. One little girl's very-audible comment to her mother as they passed: "Mummy, there's no sense at all in what he's doing". Little by little, my fear of the big wing in the wind lessened and lessened, and my confidence and my knowledge of what wind I could manage, and what was too strong or too turbulent, grew.
Then, on 6th. August, I flew my first high tow with my own wing over a beautiful piece of farmland near Kärkölä (for pilots: next to "Anton"). It was near the end of the hottest summer period on record, and the wind was quite light; my starting technique was abysmal, but once I got into the air safely, it all fell together - the onus for a safe tow, especially in the first few seconds of flight, is very much on the tow driver.
After that, progress was much quicker (see e.g. in which Santtu flies first, then me), and after a wonderful afternoon's flying at Sofieberg on 9th. September, I was finally checked out as an OK PP2 flier.
The two final flights to make up the minimum of 40 required I flew at Hyvinkää last monday.For the first time I had some thermal turbulence to deal with, but all went well. 500m launches! After this I accompanied my instructor to Suomenlinna, where I was able to watch really good pilots flying the ramparts (see , sorry about the wind noise, click on mute) . My wing stayed in its bag: these kinds of jaunts might just be for me in some years time - or maybe never!
To crown the summer's flying - and this is real, real flying - take a look at this video:
My share at Lappohja was supposed to be just to practice ground handling, in particular kiting, but I also managed to "accidentally" take off and fly straight into a tree, and then later, very tired, I was hauled backwards up another tree by my so-willing wing: the results show nicely in the video. For this exploit I earned the doubtful honour of collecting "tree points", without which no real paragliding pilot is (apparently) able to hold his head up. The wing took a lot of getting down, but in the end, dog tired, I got it into its bag. Later, with the wing suspended from the lighting system in our living room, Sirkka helped me with extracting the tons of Lappohja sand from the interior of the wing. The video shows how the pundits flew the ridge lift from this difficult site with such aplomb.

... "Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new."
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