Friday, July 02, 2010

SIV 6-8 June

I am not a boy scout, never was, but I do believe in being prepared. In the military a lot of our training focused on what to do when things went wrong. The idea was that you didn't want to be in a bad situation for the first time in combat--that's what training is all about. You train for the bad situation so that you will react appropriately when or if it happens in the real world. So yeah, I believe in being prepared. If I didn't, do you think there would be a chance in Hell that I would contemplate a full stall as a new P2? I began the Eagle SIV clinic like others, I thought that I knew what I was doing, and Brad Gunnuscio quickly dispelled that notion. The Lake Berryessa location was wonderful. Thanks in large part to Gil and Cathy Pridmore, they are absolutely wonderful hosts and I felt very lucky to have met them.

The SIV clinic is esentialy a game of trust. Either you learn to trust Brad (and he learns to trust you) in the first few flights, or you learn to fly within your limits or go in the drink. It is the nature of the SIV to push a pilot beyond his limits--without the push, then pilots would just be getting a quick three days of towing and collapses. Lucky for me, Brad is easy to trust! His calm demeanor, uncanny ability to see EXACTLY what you are doing at four thousand feet (you need to pull 3" more break) and his affable nature, all combine to make him an excellent instructor.

Some of the pilots in my SIV were there for the second SIV (a course of action I personnally recommend)--they were pushing different limits than the rest of us. Essentially the SIV is a safety course for paragliders. The novices started with collapses, frontals, and B-line stalls and moved in the direction of full stalls. The pilots who had been in previous SIV courses quickly showed a mastery of these events and moved on to Asymetric Spirals, Spins, Dynamic Stalls and other skills.

For me the course consisted of 8 flights. A summary of those flights is:

Flight #1: Asymetric Collapse Right (quick release), Asymertic Collapse Left (quick release), Asymetric Collapse Right (maintain and circle 360 in the direction of collapse), Asymetric Collapse Left (maintain and circle in the direction of collapse), Frontal.

Flight #2: Asymetric Collapse Right (maintain), Asymertic Collapse Left (maintain), Asymetric Collapse Right (suprise deflation--go with the deflation and do not let it change course more than 90 degrees), Asymetric Collapse Left (suprise deflation), Frontal, B-Line Stall.

Flight #3: Horse-shoe Stall, Get twisted in your risers (for me it was 4 twists, had to back off to 3-and-a-half because it is hard to hold four twist in your risers and still steer with the rear lines), Spiral with a bad exit (point is to kill the spiral momentum and then check the surge).

Flight #4:Accelerated Everything! Asymetric Collapse Right (quick release), Asymertic Collapse Left (quick release), Asymetric Collapse Right (maintain and circle 360 in the direction of collapse), Asymetric Collapse Left (maintain and circle in the direction of collapse), Frontal. All of these were done on FULL Speedbar. Albiet, a few of the frontals caused my feet to slip out of speedbar and I had to re-engage.

Flight #5: Full on Spiral! Gear 5 (horizontal), nice exit.

Flight #6: Asymetric Spirals, collapses, and a B-line.

Flight #7: Asymetric Spirals, B-Line, and some accelerated collapses.

Flight #8: Full stalls! First one lasted 22 seconds. Slowed until just at stall then buried, worked up to quarter stall/tail slide/flew using weight shift while tail sliding then recovered. Second stall was straight to stall and then to tail slide--had a cravat and had to baba ghanoush it. Third stall was straight to stall, tail slide, and recovered quickly.

Going into my first day, I felt pretty good. I had had SOME towing experience (Thanks Reaper) and I was told that I got VERY high on my tows. Towing behind a boat is somewhat unsettling. Everything the boat goes through, you feel via the towline. Luckily, we had an EXCELLENT tow crew--Thanks Tim and Jared! The towing and our student response to it got better as the days wore on. We started with forward launches and as the wind picked up moved to reverse launches. As the days went by, the towing experience became less stressfull (partly because we were concentrating on more advanced maneuvers).

After the first day, I felt like a complete idiot. The baby collapses I had practiced at Makapu'u seemed feeble. I knew I had to step up my game or I would not be getting the most I could out of the course. I WAS trying. It is just that I was unnerved when my glider was at 30% collapse and I was unsure of the correct response. Brad had told us to "Lock in the Collapse" by holding our risers--the first day I had been unsuccessfull at this. The second day, I hit it just right.

I was on my fourth flight, accelerated everything and I did just what Brad had instructed us to do. On every collapse, I locked my hand (holding the collapse) to my risers. This allowed me to concentrate on flying my wing instead of fighting the collapse and resulted in a MUCH better flight. On the frontals, I pulled as high as I could above the mallions and did a quick thrust and release. On full speedbar, this activity gives you the initial feeling that you will get in your first full stall--the fall backwards--it is just not as pronounced as it is in a full stall.

My fifth flight was pure joy! I got to go up to 4K and pulled a full spiral! I entered it and pulled it down trying to lock it in, but when Brad said to go hands-up my wing immediately began to pull itself out of the spiral (Way to go Sport 4!). Brad told me to go ahead and brake back into the spiral and I did. I almost achieved a nose-down attitude (I think I was within 10 degrees). It was awesome!

My sixth flight was complete remote controll! Brad had explained the required maneuvers for doing an asymetric spiral and had us practice on the beach while we waited to fly. I have to admit, I think I nailed it for a few of the rotations before I began to ancicipate Brad's instruction--this was, of course, after my spin.

My seventh flight was a rerun of my sixth except that my initial entry into the Asymetric Spiral was not timed well and as a result I had to exit it and re-enter. Aftert that it went pretty well.

My eighth flight was THE Biggie--Full Stalls. I remember my tow up for this flight was exceptionally bumpy. I thought to myself, "Self, this is bumpy. Damn!" Myself replied, "You idiot, you are about to do a Full Stall of your glider. Stop being a Wuss!" I then got myself together and did three full stalls on the flight. I have to say, the thought of the full stall was MUCH more scary than the actual stall itself. The wing was eseentially somewhat stable in the stall and in the tail slide--much more than I had imagined. I will say that the stall is a full-commit exercise. There was one guy in my class who had a momentary slip in a stall and he ended up very twisted in his descent and he almost had to throw his parachute. Luckily he recovered--mostly due to his excellence as a pilot.

All in all I have to say that this was a VERY GOOD experience! The class was excellent, all of the pilots I met were exceptional, the tow crew was awesome, and Brad was a great instructor! I cannot say how much this class helped me as a pilot to understand the dynamics of my wing--the Sport 4 is an absolutely amazing wing!

This class helped me to understand how much my wing really does want to fly, and that if things get sketchy, I can always go hands up and my wing will likely recover. It also taught me some very valuable life-saving skills--collapse recovery, cravat recovery, and stalls; as well as some FUN descent techniques--Spirals, B-Lines, and Asymmetric Spirals.

I have heard that the SIV should be a mandatory event for getting your P3, and I have to say that is not a bad idea (don't know if it should be mandatory, but it is good training). No other event will prepare you for what to do when things go bad better than the SIV--this is not to say that the SIV will immediately make you a better pilot (it will not grant you bump tolerance, nor make you immune to the times when your wing gets jiggy). It will, however, make the next collapse a familiar event--one that you feel able to recover from. I was flying with Hillbilly just this week and had a severe collapse very close to the hill at Kahana. Luckily, my SIV had prepared me and I simply flew the wing away from the terrain and recovered. In the past this type of event would have unnerved me. Today it was just the consequence of trying to catch a mean thermal!

I hope this diatribe has some value to you all. If you are even thinking of attending an SIV course, I have to recommend Brad! He did an excellent job! If you have never had to full stall your wing, my hope is that the first time is not the time that really matters!

I also have to send out a heartfelt thanks to my beautiful wife! She hung out with us at the clinic for the full three days, filming and talking pictures and just being supportive of all the neurotic pilots. Thanks for all the support Honey! Love Ya!

Here is some of the video from my SIV. I will publish more as I can get it edited. I have hours from my classmates and I to work on.

Here are my collapses, spirals and stalls.



Anonymous said...

Great write-up and videos Duck! I need to make a plan to do one of these next summer. Thanks for sharing what you learned and helping us newer guys stay safe.

JeffMc said...

Duck - awesome write-up man! Wish I could have gone - maybe next time!


Waianae Jim said...

Mahalos for sharing your experience with us Duck, nice work.

Anonymous said...

A must do for every pilot
Great job Duck !

Christopher (Paraguide)

MauiDoug said...

Thanks Duck for sharing your experience! The SIV course is also on my list of things to do. Great job and looking forward to flying with you soon!

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys!

It was a great experience and I am glad to share it!


Anonymous said...

Duck, congrats. Glad to hear your going to Chamonix. It will be great to have another Sport 4 to follow. You'll be a P5 before long.


Sharky said...

Great writeup Duck! I'm definitely putting an SIV in my future.

Thanks for putting in the effort to edit and post the videos as got 2 GoPro's now?? Yowza!

Anonymous said...

Hey Duck,
You communicate well to the rest of us. Maybe ask Alex how to get this article to the USHPA pub for publishing. More people would be inticed to give SIV a try if they read more articles like yours.Hope to read more of your experiences in the blog! All of you guys deserve a comendation for your sharing of info on your web site. I wouldn't miss it.

Aloha, Drag-N-Fly P2

BC Ryan said...

Great article... I am doing an SIV in Revelstoke back here in BC in two weeks. Really looking forward to it. I am glad you got so much out of it.


BC Ryan

Anonymous said...


Nice work! Sporrer has a great operation going up there and is lucky to have Brad coaching the the Prindles place for base camp. Brad took me from my first SIV to tumbling in three sessions. Keep up the good work, and I hope to be back down there training after Nationals in Chelan next week.

Adios, Jon Malmberg

Louise said...

Wow - Awesome write up Ducky. Great of you to break it up by flight. Helps to define some of the expectations of the flights and their progression.


Anonymous said...

Cheers Louise!! Your are my hero! Did you ever find your wing? LOL

You are one ballsy lady!!! Remind me to never piss you off! It weas great to see you at Woodrat! Come back out and fly with us in Hawaii!