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First flights of the season – manage the risk!

Importance of Currency

It's been a long winter and worse, a very very long lock down for all of us outdoor and freedom loving paragliding pilots, especially in Auckland. I am certainly completely over feeling locked inside, inactive, bored.

Outside Auckland, a few accidents happened straight after lockdown, which made me wonder if pilots' currency were a factor in them.

Naturally, we are all hanging out for that first flight once we get into level 2, getting out to the site, catching up with all our flying mates we haven't seen for some time, enjoying what we love and most of all, that breeze in our face.

I fear, our collective accident risk is higher than usual with a bunch of risk factors accumulating: We are overly keen which can make us rush and check less, we are excessively out of practice after a long break, spring conditions especially inland can be full on and more challenging than any other time of the year. To make it worse, there will be a bit of peer pressure with everyone at the sites on the first flyable day.

Currency is a huge factor in paragliding safety - as well as many other activities - and currency we don't have right now. Even experienced pilots will find that after a long break from flying, it seems more of a mission to have our gear sorted, to nail our launches, to do everything right.

The less experienced you are, meaning the less well practiced and somewhat automated all your procedures and skills are prior to a long break, the more likely slips and mistakes happen after extended absence of practice, especially when adding increased excitement and nerves.

Here are some ideas to reduce this added risk:

Perhaps do a home equipment check next time the weather is good, even get into all your gear ready to launch, do a chilled round of ground handling at a local park once allowed, plan an easy flight at an easy site for starters rather than throwing yourself into spring thermals at Moirs.

Pay special attention to packing your gear, your the weather checks, preflight procedure, your preflight checks, your launches and flight plan. Just a little 'refresher' will go a long way to sharpen your senses and calm down the mind to a level where thinking and planning becomes easy.

If you feel quite out of practice, please book a couple of days of a refresher course with us! We can remind you of all the important things, keep an eye on you, teach you a new launch technique or just help you improve your general flying skills.

Too many pilots still haven't brought their reserves in for repacks nor done their WOFs! Don't wait till we can fly, we will all get busy then and won't have time for checks and repacks. Please bring them in before Level 2!


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