WAG 2009 — Competition, Perception & Why Crashing Is Bad
By Jeff Goin, Photos by Stan Kasica |
2009 Log Writeup
What an adventure!
Three pilots and two crew members represented U.S. paramotorists in
international competition—a first. This was a big deal and felt like it,
with extravagant ceremonies, paid hotels, meals and local
transportation. Italy put on quite the show.
Our team, consisting of myself (Jeff Goin), Chad Bastian and Stan
Kasica, ended up with 6th, 14th and 18th places amidst an intensely
Thanks to those who contributed with travel expenses through the
USPPA fund. It was much appreciated. Competitors still ponied up over a
$1000 each to get there and back but that was so worthwhile.
Flying & Perception
There's no magic to competition. You just fly the tasks and let the
scores fall where they may. It's quite attainable for PPG2 level pilots.
Don't worry about being super steep or fast, just launch consistently,
fly the courses correctly and don't crash. Crashing is decidedly bad as
we'll soon see.
Any pilot who merely flew the courses correctly avoided the last
places. A common misperception is that you have to be a daredevil risk
taker to compete. It's true that top placers fly pretty aggressively
but, more importantly, they fly precisely. Wanking and banking is easy
compared with precision control of track through a course and landing on
a soccer ball.
Another cool aspect of even intense competition is the camaraderie
which always seems to surprise me. Everybody wants intensely to wind but
it's surprisingly like a fly-in with purpose. There's commonality, too,
because everybody obviously enjoys precision flying as well as a good
cruise. They talk about carburetors, wings, fuel, methods, etc. and
nearly everybody I talk to is willing to share insights into their
You don't need special equipment to excel although a fast wing will
be required to win at this level. My 6th place came on a DHV 1-2 Pluto
22 m² wing and Top 80 Miniplane. So when the next competition
opportunity comes up, won't you join us? Fly the courses correctly,
don't crash and enjoy the company.
The biggest reason not to crash is how many points it costs. And
crashing is expensive. Even crashing late in the game is bad.
When flying most any task, it's safe to assume that crashing will result
in zilch for that task. The primary reason crashing is penalized so
heavily is the time it takes to clean up. Prop shards travel a long way.
Plus, bad crashes render the hardware/software unusable for future tasks
which means even bigger zeros.
Secondly, we all tend to like each other and, after going through all
that trouble to get together, we want to visit with everybody without
going to a hospital.
Thirdly, it hurts. Earth is hard and very unforgiving. Plus, it's
frequently littered with the detritous of ground-bound humanity—power
lines, cars, buildings, etcetera, that are all unyielding impediments to
airborne progress and are best avoided. Mostly, though, it's the ground
that gets in our way during competition.
Fortunately crashing is rare, even during competition. There were a
couple at the WAG and one pilot wasn't able to finish. But that happened
while launching to reposition his gear, not during competition. Stuff
It was like a big parasmorgasborg—from the initial qualifier last
year, instigated by Roy Beisswenger, to the Italian Extravagansa that
made us feel like Olympians. I'm grateful. Also thanks to crew members
Dave and Carmen Rogers, to those who helped out financially, and to
Powered Sport Flying Magazine for our team clothing. You guys rock!
See ya at the next event.