Fear vs. Powered Paragliding
May 30, 2007 Naperville, IL |
Epilogue: It's Finished!
Don't you get tired of hearing "but I'm afraid of heights?"
Of course you're afraid of heights!
Everybody is afraid of heights. Open, unsupported heights, that is. Yes, you can overcome it, but that built
in fear to real danger is why iron workers get paid so much money to
scale scary heights. The most petrifying
experience of my life was launching my tethered body into an abyss, 173
feet below while suspended by an overgrown rubber
band. Whoever thought of Bungee jumping is way more maligned than
any paramotor dude ever was.
So imagine my disgust at seeing the blank lines of failure on my home
weather display. That meant only one
thing: a trip to the roof which is where
anemometers must live to be happy. It had been several years since I last
conquered this fear to mount the silly thing
and now I must refresh those thankfully unused dendrites.
Adding insult to the
ordeal was my
lack of a ladder. The one
originally moved out with my former sign-maker room mate. None of my
neighbors had use for such a monstrosity, either, since they were
apparently smart enough to stay off their roofs. And I live in an
airport community full of pilots, most of which are probably
afraid of heights, too.
$200 later I owned a big scary ladder with lots of
stickers. They warned of the many ways to die using the big scary
ladder. Comforting. Paramotors don't have that many stickers so they
must be safer.
The rooftop anemometer unit sends a radio signal
powered to the display inside. It's solar powered with
batteries to help when Sol is absent. This is
Chicago, Sol is absent a lot so I figured the batteries were dead.
If only it could be so easy. With Tim holding the
base of the big scary ladder on one end and the other lodged
precariously against the wall and roof, I made the climb. Terror grows
quickly above about step 5. After finagling my way to the roof I tore
into the waterproof transmitter where the batteries hide under a
thousand tiny screws longing to be dropped. When I undid the first
screw, water came out. Uh oh. That can't be good. What I discovered once
the case was opened made it clear: these corroded guts would do no
So I descended the big scary ladder in despair.
That part from the roof to getting my feet on the ladder was shear
terror. There has to be a better way. I ordered a new one and will have
to go through this ordeal again only this time I'm gonna seal the thing
up with tape and silicon thus guranteeing the batteries will need to be
replaced in 6 months.
I don't think the sum total of my powered
paragliding has instilled this much fear. Even my two parachutal crashes
weren't as bad because they didn't last as long. Unfortunately, I don't
think I could pull this off from the powered paraglider and there's
definitely not enough room to land up there.
Epilogue: June 3, 2007: It was easier
this time. After jamming the big scary ladder up against the roof, I
headed up. Stopping near the top I waited for my nerve to build. Besides
the feared fatal fall, I had to contend with hot shingles. My timing was
terrible—the black shingles were soaking in afternoon sun. Oh well, here
goes. I held on tight and swung my leg up. Interestingly, that move was
a bit less fearsome than last time. I can see how iron workers might get
careless after acclimating to their still-risky situations. It was scary
but not as much as the first time.
This time I had the foresight to
bring up a rope so that if anything was needed I didn't have climb the
ladder but could get Tim, who was standing by with 9-1-1 on his phone, to
send it up in the bag. Fortunately, Tim only used the bag and not the
Standing up there was actually kind of cool. Looking out amidst
the sea of housetops (while death gripping the chimney) provided a
unique view. I relished anew our unique ability to navigate in 3D.
Removal and installation of the new anemometer was uneventful as was
my last descent of the big scary ladder. Ahhh. So lets see, the winds
are 315° at 12 mph gusting to 18 mph. Boy is that nice to have within
easy eye shot. Too bad it also means there'll be no flying this evening.