Monday, February 06, 2006

A Series of Bad Decisions

I knew better. I should have listened to my gut; it was telling me this was a bad idea.
But no . . . I decided to fly anyway: Bad Decision Numba One.

Perhaps, it was an over-estimation of my ability. Perhaps, I was just trying to be like the “Big Boys.” Perhaps, I just wanted the “Big Boys” to see me as an equal.

It felt rather light at Crazy Man. Ray had just launched his XS Gangster and had some difficulty finding lift.

I launched anyway: Bad Decision Numba Two.

There was lift. Ray was getting plenty of altitude now . . . he just had to work for it in the little sweet-spot over by Lazy Man.

I turned right. I wasn’t gaining altitude; in fact, I was losing some. I figured there would be some near Lazy Man. This was my third tandem of the day . . . there had been lift there during the first two flights . . . surly there would be lift there now.
I decided to press on: Bad Decision Numba Tree.

I started to sink faster. I was nearly to the sweet-spot . . . I was sure there would be lift.
I decided to scratch in close: Bad Decision Numba Four.

There was no lift; only sink. I had pushed too far to make it back to the beach safely.

The only alternate LZ was a postage-stamp-sized outcropping of rocks directly below Lazy Man: Nasty place to land a solo glider; nastier still with a full-sized tandem. It took a bit of active piloting to make it look like I meant it. Additionally, I had to continuously reassure my passenger, in a tone of voice that seemed sincere . . . “We’re fine. No problem. We’re just gonna set down right here . . .”

I landed safely. The passenger was safe. The pilot was safe. The wing was undamaged.

As I unhooked the passenger, the surf grabbed my wing and pulled it into the Pacific. (Seems like a fitting punishment.) I sent the passenger hiking back up the cliff while I dragged my wing out of the surf. During this time, my cell phone dove into a tide pool – Suicide’s phone committed suicide -- don't you just love the irony? (Seems like a fitting punishment.)

If you’ve ever carried a wet wing, you know its HEAVY. A wet tandem wing is HEAVIER. It was a long, tiring, thirsty hike back up to the road. (Seems like a fitting punishment.)

I am humiliated; disgusted; and I feel terrible about the whole thing. (Seems like a fitting punishment.)

I knew better than to make that flight, but I did it anyway. I know I am not the only person ever to make a series of bad decisions, but this time it was not just me at risk.

I know everyone will have an opinion about this and will wish to offer their commentary. PLEASE DON’T.

Anything you would say, I have already said it . . . the recording is playing over and over in my head . . . it will be for a long time to come.

I thank God that the only injury was to my pride.

So . . . unless you wish to offer words of encouragement (e.g., “Yeah, I’ve dipped my wing before”; “Your not the only paraglider pilot to make that mistake”; “We still love you”; or “Glad your OK.”), please . . .

See you in the air


firedave said...

Goldberged it! I don't know what to say, except that at least you remembered to unclip the passenger first.

Anonymous said...

ok, just because you asked.... I'm glad you're ok! (just kidding)
hey, Homicide Pete,I have a question: Who was the suicidal passenger??

Don't you hate PONR (point of no return)?

better luck (or should I say 'decisions') next time!


Anonymous said...

Peter, call me. You are welcome to join me in my kiting practices. lets do it man

Anonymous said...

Who is "Anonymous?"

I would love to go kiting with you, but this incident wasn't about poor kiting. It was about being to: "I shouldn't have made this flight at all."