May 9, 2007 Salt Lake City, UT
A group of six pilots, myself (Jeff Goin)
included, just completed a maneuvers clinic (SIV) with Chris Santacroce in Salt Lake City.
"Throw Down" session he called it.
Each of us came for different reasons, all
wanting to better understand flying our wings. My
motivation stemmed from an event that happened during filming of synchro
spirals and a curiosity about parachutal stall on the MacPara Spice. I motor
with it, mostly, but also take it soaring. Half of us were
fairly experienced and the other half were are
newly minted. All but one were motor pilots.
A full report will appear in Powered Sport Flying magazine but,
suffice it to say, we got a lot out of including a couple scary surprises, the most dramatic of
which was caught on video.
Day 1 brought miserable weather. It was surprising that anything got
done and indeed the rain, gust fronts and shifty winds put the kibosh on
it by 5pm. It was a trying effort that included one ripped, but
repairable wing that lost its battle with an iron fire ring. After being
served a strong gust front with two sides of steady rain, we called it
Day 2 was so bad we skipped the entire thing. But we did get to hang
out with Salt Lake paragliding legend Ken Hudonjorgenson, a treat on its
own right. He's one of the earliest paragliding pilots to pioneer the
sport in Utah. We even went to the movies—Spiderman III is good escapist
entertainment although it does require stowing a bit more than the usual
Comic book brainlessness. The script required imagination stretching
that's excessive even for this genre.
Day 3 was insanely perfect. The amount and type of flying we did was
intense. A welcome wrinkle was sunshine—the first since we'd arrived.
Even Chris called this Marathon towing session one that rivaled his
Lets put it this way, if you haven't done these, don't try them on
your own. They don't always come out as planned and a reserve toss may
or may not help. It's not so much that you'll die—apparently there've
only two fatalities in all the clinics given—but you'll sure get cold
and wet! The water on this lake was 55°.
There are certainly some maneuvers that an experienced pilot can
build up to but anything that intentionally collapses part of the wing
is playing with fire. Same goes for steep maneuvering. For me, it didn't
help that I was flying a highly responsive, uncertified and heavily
loaded MacPara Spice 22. The wing actually behaved quite predictably in
most areas but didn't like being so thoroughly provoked in others.
Curiosity is a weak point with me. Besides wanting to explore the
steeper face of spirals and collapses, I wanted to enter stable stall,
aka Parachutal. Chris warned me early on that it can be a "sporty"
recovery. As you'll soon see in the forthcoming article and accompanying
pictures, sporty was an understatement.