Just like any other sports or perhaps in almost everything that we do, we will go through several stages and here’s my wee hours take on it :
First phase : When we were just starting out as a Novice pilot, the decision to fly or actions while flying is largely influenced by our limited skills and the ability to handle the glider during rough conditions. We’re not intimidated but always cautious, prudent and conservative in every move that we make throughout the flight, even when we’re about to commit it.
Second phase : Then we moved up to Intermediate level and the decisions will often be influenced by peer pressure, when watching other pilots that are more advanced launching in conditions that we’re neither ready nor capable of handling it well. At this stage, the habit of bending or sometimes breaking the rules will start to shape the character or the type of pilot that we will soon become. In my opinion, this is the most important stage where it requires a strong willpower to resist the bad habits.
Third phase : We survived the Intermediate level and crossed over into the Advanced level, capable of handling the paraglider in rough or unsuitable wind conditions much better and confidently than when we were still a Novice or an Intermediate pilot. At this stage, many of us will fall into the trap of over-confidence or even hubris when we think that we’ll always be able to manage any sorts of conditions to fly. This, is commonly known as the Icarus syndrome and more often than not, it is one of the major cause of paragliding accidents.
Fourth phase : This is the realisation or maturity stage where pilots are starting to realise that the most dangerous part of paragliding actually comes from within; the pilots themselves and less the weather or equipment. At this stage, we’re more conservative and prudent just like when we were a Novice pilot but possesses the skills and knowledge of an Advanced pilot. This stage is largely influenced by experience, either through own encounters or from witnessing others experiencing them and learn from their mistakes.
There’s an adage among pilots of older age or those that has been active in the sport for decades and it says “there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots”.
My advice for pilots that are in the process of polishing their flying skills and in the progression of becoming Advanced pilots, is to always remember and embrace the mindset of the Fourth phase, then it’s almost certain that they will be able to enjoy this sport for much longer and creates positive vibes that will ripple through the next generation of newer pilots to emulate.
Till next blog… may the Fourth be with you, adieu.