Saturday, August 14, 2010


A few days ago I landed in a perfect green grassy field right in the middle of a little Italian village.  It was right next to the main roundabout in the village, so there was quite a lot of traffic coming and going.  Hundreds of people passed me looking curiously during the two or so hours that I was waiting for retrieve. Each time someone stopped to ask me what was going on (always in Italian and mostly incomprehensible to me), I thought again to myself how amazing this sport is that we do and wondered if anyone but us really appreciates it.  We drive up to the top of a hill, remove this package that looks like nothing more than a rolled up carpet on the roof of the car, set it all up, strap ourselves in and then we go fly...just like a bird...for miles and miles.  The we land...sometimes in the middle of nowhere, sometimes in the middle of a small village where the construction workers are busy repaving the road and the people are sitting on the patio of a cafe drinking tiny cups of coffee.  Perhaps none of the people that watch me derigg the glider have any idea what we do.  Probably most don't understand that I came from a village 80 km down the road that they might pass through only once in a while.

I wonder if pilots are special breed of humans and we are the only ones that are fascinated by this amazing thing we do.  But how could everyone not feel the we do about it?  How could anyone who sees us land beside the highway in the middle fo a Thursday afternoon not be completely blown away?  After nearly 20 years, I'm still amazed.  There is nothing like it.

The Dutch Nationals ended early yesterday with a bit of rain and wind that cancelled the last two tasks.  Today Maria, Kathryn and I drove toward Tolmin, Slovenia where we will do it all over again in a different place.  Damien and I are back together, happier than ever with a renewed sense of commitment ;-)

1 comment:

GW said...

HI james, Glad you're having a great time in EU.

Your ponderings on how other people view what we do is something I've run through my brain a lot of times in the past.

When I was a kid, my dad used to take us to the airport and we'd sit in the car -watching the planes take off and land. It was something we did.

I remember going to a sailplane port just to watch them takeoff and land. Same thing with hot air balloons.

I think that I was meant to fly something. No matter what I saw flying in my childhood, I watched it and was drawn to it.

Most people, I've come to realize; don't have this curiosity built in to them. We (hg pilots) are amongst the the few that do. That's why we fly hang gliders.

Back in the 90's, I used to run towing/tandem clinics down south of Salinas as this dirt airstrip that was immediately beside the road. Hundreds and hundreds of people would pass by there on a daily basis and almost no one would stop to watch these hang gliders launching off the back of a pickup truck and land back on the airstrip - only a 100 feet from the road. It would amaze me!

Over time, I've developed an opinion that not everyone is meant to fly hang gliders. In fact, I feel that a very small percentage of people should be flying them. The trick is to have those people get in a position to find the sport.

Glad you're in a place that allows you to constantly be reminded how fortunate and special you are in life. THAT is what really matters.

Have fun.