Freesteel Blog » Going Down on Wether Fell

Going Down on Wether Fell

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 at 7:19 am Written by:

Blazingly sunny day over Wether Fell, but with blue sky above the hill all day. About 30 paragliders could be seen rising above Dodd’s Fell up ahead, but there never was quite that kind of lift where I was, with another 20 paragliders on my hill, wafting about the place, catching the once-every-half-hour breezy thermal (which I missed, as I was waiting for it to get better, which it never did. Lesson learned.)

Finally went for it at 2pm after two hours standing under the glider, and went straight down with barely a breath of lift.

There was so little wind it didn’t matter which direction I landed in.

I carried it up the field to a gate on the road, broke it down, stomped directly up 400 metres of steep grassy slope, fetched the car, loaded the glider, took it back to the top (giving a lift to one paraglider girl), and set everything up again in time for it to get windy at around 4pm.

Funnily enough, that little flight has probably given me more confidence than any other flight so far. I can steer it where I want to go. I’m not frightened to go down into a strange field. And I’ve nearly learnt how to rig and derig the glider in a routine zen mode without referring to the instructions.

There were no other hang-gliders around all day. That’s because every last one of them is a seasoned XC pilot, and Wether Fell doesn’t provide a clear enough run for one of those distance records they need due to Leeds airport being 50 miles downwind and in the way. (Me, I’d be over the moon if I could get to cloud-base or fly ten miles.) So they were all at a site on the North York’s moors that gives a clear run down the east coast all the way to London.

When I took off, all the paragliders were grounded by the 15mph wind, which was perfect for keeping me up.

Then I wasted the next hour trying to find some lift to carry me higher than 200m ATO, rather than taking advantage of the perfect conditions to do those necessary flying drills such as pushing out to find the minimum sink position by use of the little bits of yarn stuck to the wing for the purpose of showing when the air flow has reversed, or practising 360s at different bank angles without the effect of differential lift to confuse matters as to whether I am dropping out three quarters of the way round due to the air currents, or if it’s just me. I can’t explain why on some of the turns the video puts the nose of the glider on the horizon, and at other times it is at the same place as in level flight.

After 20 minutes, my brain went to mush as usual, and I stopped being able to perform. After 40 minutes I got motion sickness, which wasn’t very nice. There’s an antidote I sometimes took in the form of these anti-sea sickness tablets based on scopolamine, active compound with lots of potential side-effects that can happen to certain people, such as blindness or extreme drowsiness.

Funnily enough, it had never occurred to me before to pop one of those pills on normal day to see what the side-effects are in safe conditions. I had only ever taken it before a potential motion sickness event such as going out on a dive boat or hang-gliding, when the onset of a side-effect could have been catastrophic. It seems obvious now to do so when taking a substance that’s going to do unnatural things to your brain in the hope that one of the unnatural things it does is to suppress the natural response to a completely unnatural environment.

Eventually, I top-landed with enough grace to be complemented by the two remaining paraglider pilots on the hill. No footage was recorded as most of my memory card had already been filled by my two hours standing on the hill earlier in the day. After a quick chat (one of them was a caver), I took off again and flew for half an hour just to prove I really could do it. I packed up alone and my arms were as knackered as they were from a day of cave digging.

I have the intention of videoing every single flight I do. It doesn’t add up to a lot of hours. It would help if I videoed a little bit of the setting up and derigging of the glider to provide some context. I guess this is a form of Lifecasting, which is an interesting topic, not fully explored by its public exponents, in terms of answering the questions, like, Who would want to watch these streams and why?

One purpose of lifecasting (and, more importantly, archiving) is to rerun it to yourself a few days later in order to learn how to improve. This would apply not only to physical activities, like gliding, but could also allow you to rerun and pick apart your sub-optimal performance in social interactions as well.

Another purpose of retaining your own videos is to rerun them decades later as an aid to reminiscing about the life by providing further triggers to your introspectively unavailable memories. That’s got to be good. In the same way that walking sticks are good. Maybe I should be recording videos of more ordinary times, such as at night sleeping or doing the dishes. Maybe we should invest in an official life portrait of ourselves every five years as a gift to our older selves.

I don’t see why it’s my job to explore the process all by myself, when I should be able to read some philosophical treatises and case-based research that someone else has already done — except I cannot find any. The exponents of lifecasting appear to have been too busy making products and money to have time for such self-examination, what with Justin.tv spawning off Socialcam whose relation to Egodesk was the starting point from which I surfed to the lifecasting concept.

Ironically, without such self-examination, life is not worth living — let alone casting

Or, to give the full quote from Socrates:

Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say that the greatest good of a man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living — that you are still less likely to believe.

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