Powered Paragliding: My First Flight
Learning to fly a powered paraglider is perhaps one of the best decisions I have ever made by what can only be judge as “the smile factor.” On a cold November morning with temps below freezing I arrived early to the airport in Colorado to unload my equipment and complete a preflight inspection on my newly acquired paramotor.
I received my initial flight training the week before, learning the basics of ground handling, aviation regulations, and meteorology. This weekend was show time as there are no training wheels when taking up a single person aircraft, just a steep learning curve that you go through alone. I had no idea what I was committing to but regardless of my anxiety I was going to find out.
Butterflies? No. The feeling of nervousness I had before my first time flying a powered paraglider was more along the lines of nausea mixed with elation. The more excited I became the sicker I felt.
One final look, I thought, as I scanned left then right, double-checking my risers and canopy layout before committing to the launch. The rush of adrenaline caused me to forget everything I intended to do on take off except run like hell, it is amazing how the body can go into fight or flight trying to fight the flight.
Balancing the wing overhead I listened to my instructors voice on the radio as I ran until my legs were still kicking above the earth until I heard his commands to adjust myself in the seat, take a deep breath and most importantly smile.
Insert a stream of joyous profanity here, I was airborne and piloting myself! Every time the motor shifted from air activity the wind absorbed caused a moment of doubt followed by immense accomplishment for continuing to remain airborne. One thing about flying is that until you get used to the bumps and what they should tell you about the air is the same as trying to diagnose an engine problem your first time hearing a motor, it all sounds or feels bad until you get a touch for it.
After several minutes it was time to come down, not because I wanted to but because it was in my best interest. The good thing about this frozen morning is that my flights were short in duration, ensuring my confidence didn’t grow more than my competence, as my hands became too numb to give quality inputs after much time in the air. I got used to this feeling though, often flying in below freezing temps just for the chance to get back up again, I was hooked!