Nine good reasons not to fly
I spent Saturday on a sunny take-off, without sunscreen, with two burnt and squashed croissants, half a liter of water, alone in a foreign crowd, too windy for my flying level, got lost hiking down, got home nine hours later, completely knackered and slept for eleven hours that night… It was an awesome day! And here is why:
For several mind-numbing reasons I haven’t been up for flying lately. Yes, me… a pg-nutter from the day I saw a glider… and I’ve gotten into a vicious cycle of keeping my own spirits down by not flying! I tell myself it’s not so bad because I have lot’s of other important stuff to do, like finding hot pg videos on YouTube to share on Facebook.
When you’re feeling down on your luck any little obstacle (I don’t know anyone there, I don’t have a radio/vario/gps/windmeter/gloves (all stolen) I don’t know how to get there, I don’t have any money) seems overwhelming. Hence, it was an awesome day because:
1. I made the effort: I found the train time-table from Nice to Roquebrune, studied the weather and local club website, found info on the shuttle-bus to take-off, packed my gear, borrowed gloves and got on that train!
2. Chance meeting: I got talking with some Romanian visiting pilots, it was their last day there and my first. They ask me where I’m from and one of them says Wow, I have a Facebook contact from Iceland and I say Really, whats his name? ’cause I know all the pilots there. Well it’s a girl… hmmm… Anna, something… Bjarndat?… the guy scratches his head to aid his memory. Do you mean Anita? I ask as there is no Anna flying in Iceland. Yes, thats it! he agrees. But thats me!
3. Observing and learning: If I’d immediately gotten my gear out on arrival and taken off quickly I could have flown. But I like to spend some quality time on a take-off before I fly, and even more if I don’t know it well, to inhale the atmosphere. So I ran around observing the pilots take-off timing relating to wind-sock posture, routes flown, landing approaches… and then it was too windy. Lots of pilots were flying but even more were not. I had read on the club website that you should not fly this site if windspeed is over 20km/h and you see white caps on the sea.
4. Making the right decision: So I waited. A few hours later I felt like it had calmed down a bit but knowing my conditions-judgement is not very time tolerant I asked a local. He said conditions were dangerous. I asked him what that meant. He said it’s ok for good pilots. I disappointedly said merci. Then I thought: hey, I am a good pilot! Then I looked at the white-capped sea and thought: I’m not wiser than the locals.
5. Airing out my glider: It was nice to untangle the lines and hear the crispy material unfold. Ahh, the sweet smell of freedom. And re-pack it gently.
6. Exercise and nature: It may not sound appealing to most but I decided hiking down would be a fantastic substitute for flying, good exercise and training for the up-coming Icelandic X-Alps. I knew there was a path and although I didn’t know where I was sure I would find it if I just kept going down. I had read on the club-site that the hike up was about 1.5hr so figured down would be an hour. It was beautiful, the views, the smells, the air.
7. The kindness of strangers: After about an hour my toes were hurting so bad that I resolved to hiking backwards. My knees were aching and in about two hours I started thinking twice about the info on that website. By then I was on the road and soon after a nice Frenchie stopped and offered me a ride (saving me another hour I guess). Turns out he was an Italian pg pilot. Hadn’t flown for a year ’cause he was spending all his time cultivating a newly aquired plot of land just below take-off. Land I had probably trampled through a couple of hours earlier. He dropped me off at the train station just in time to hop on back to Nice.
8. My French is better: All the way down I listened to Coffee Break French on my iPod, the first episode quite fittingly about the weather. Il fait trop de vent aujourd’hui.
9. Sore muscles: J’adore sore muscles. Makes me feel accomplished. What my sore toes, aching knees and the tense arch of my foot accomplished the day after, was to tell me what I have to take care of during the X-Iceland bivvy trip. Awesome!
Does this account seem overly analytical of a day I didn’t even fly? Why, yes it is. Absolutely. And it’s totally keeping my spirits up. I’m now waiting for the rain to stop and the wind to turn in the right direction. Lucky lifts!