Paraglide view by Seb

Australia - Posted On

Sébastien writes, English translation by Olivier:

Why do I like to fly?

For freedom? 

No. Freedom in paragliding is a myth. Wind conditions (strength, direction, stability, no rain…) become usually good when the amount of work to do at the office gets over the head. I don’t have the skills to go cross country easily and I must therefore stay around the spot, trying as hard as I can to stay up in the air the longest time possible. I don’t really want to invest myself in much training to be able to go really high and far, I have better to do during my little free time.

The possibility to seduce women? 

No. There are too many men in this sport. There are also the others girls, those who don’t fly. However all attempt I performed based on :”Hey girl, you know what? I’m a paragliding pilot ☺! How awesome is that? You come for a drink?” have quite resulted in ridiculous conclusion… Even more, since the evolution of the equipment went so much toward safety, I cannot even pretend I’m doing a dangerous sport.

It’s nice and relaxing?

No. There are two ways in paragliding depending on the weather pattern of this day:

1/ the grandpa way in a still air that looks like an oil sea. Nothing moves, the wing and it pilot cross the air in a long sleady from the top to the bottom; it takes 10min of flying and 2h to get back up again with a motorised vehicle. It’s quite… boring.

2/ the sportive way, in an atmosphere that looks like waves crashing on the coast. It’s much more interesting, but the paraglide in this kind of air acts as if the only thing he is crawling for is to get back to the shape of a pack, closing, moving in every direction, up, down, right, left. The problem is that you realise that you hang only on a fabric made wing with little strings. It requires a lot of focusing to make it right, putting up my fear because it moves like hell up there! It’s not really the best to appreciate nicely the landscape in this way.

It allows to stay fit by having a physical activity?

No. the average pilot is 35yo, and their best activity apart from flying is to create stories more or less true around a nice cold beer about how good they were up there. And the main health problem is not usually for them something related to run through the mountain with their backpack, but more likely something related to the alcoholic activity related earlier (at least in Alsace where I live…). Another example? The ‘good’ paragliding take-off is less than 20m from a car park. The ‘good’ landing area is in immediate proximity with a bar.

Why flying then?

The very moment I like is during the take-off. Just before being airborne, my two feet on the ground, and the slope behind me. All the lines linking me to the wing is lying in front of me. I took some time to untangle them all; I checked the canopy was nice and smoothly unpacked. I’m focusing on the wind so that it becomes regular, neither too weak nor too strong, just the right direction. At this time all my senses are at their maximum. My eyes are directed toward the trees down below giving me information about the wind coming. My ears tell me the little variations in the noise of the leaves. Then I look toward the wing and it little moves. The hands hang slightly the lines with a soft tension. Light acceleration of the wind gives a little more tension in it. With some practice we ‘see’ the wind through the fingers. At that moment the concentration is at it maximum. The mind is all about the next moment that’s coming. Nothing exists apart from the feeling of the wind and the presence of the sky that soon will be hosting me.

When the time comes, I take my decision and apply it. I move backward and accompany the wing going up with my hands. Tension comes from horizontal to vertical. After a few seconds, wing is up, tension is increasing toward the sky, I turn around, facing the slope and the magic moment happens. My feet gets away from the ground, I feel completely weightless for a moment, and I now move by the force of the air, with no effort. I ‘m flying.

It’s this very time I really enjoy when I get away from the gravitation thanks to a simple piece of fabric. That gesture is hard to learn. It is also dangerous, because it must be done in a natural environment, in a moving air, which is not ours. I have done it serenely or with fear in my guts. I’ve done it beside Olivier and Nadège in Peru facing Titicaca lake, close to Cuzco, at the top of the huge sand dune of Cerro Blanco near Nazca. I’ve done it in Savoie, France, during my apprenticeship, at the top of the Pelvoux a high mountain in the Alps. I’ve done it in Australia above gumtrees forests and above some cliffs with pristine beaches. I’ve done it also in other company at 4000m high with ski, on the Atlantic beaches, in the French Vosges, the south alps, nearby my home place in Grenoble. And every time it’s the same instant of joy, when the dream become reality, when the Man I am gets for a moment, for a few minutes of a few hours, the kingdom of the birds.