Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 3 - I Want a Bigger Cup!!

I thought I would wait to post about yesterday's task until I had a chance to sleep on it and hopefully feel differently (or better).  But, I guess that did work...woke up this morning feeling just as crappy about this whole competition as I did when I fell asleep last night.  Oh well.

After making it only maybe 25% of the way around the course yesterday, I spent the entire evening with my girls "support group"...ha ha ha.  Kathryn and Hadewych are fantastic for hearing all of my thoughts about the flight and most importantly, they understand exactly how I feel and can relate.  I'm very lucky to have good friends.  

Here's the conclusion that I have come to:  No matter how good a pilot I may or may not be, competition flying is so much more psychological than anything else I do and it most definitely requires a particular personality type to do well.  Take the Russian girls for instance, who have been amongst the top for as long as I've been competing.  Russians are generally very rugged people (and I honestly do mean this in the best possible way).  Historically, they have struggled and have had to flight for everything they have.  Compare that to even an average American (and I don't consider myself average in this sense).  We have it easy....very easy.  I have had it easy my entire life.  I've had no hardship of any kind to speak of.  I've never had to fight for anything. That doesn't make for a very tough girl.  That doesn't make me a pilot that's easily able to push my way through the rough stuff.  

So that was my day yesterday.  The air was rough and I was scared.  Hadewych told me about how her flying mentor explained it to her and I really like it.  He said that we all have a "cup" where the stress accumulates.  Depending on the size of your cup, you can handle a little stress or a lot of stress during a flight.  Once that cup is full, that's really it, the stress starts to overflow and there's not really much to do but land.  Some people have cups that are really big and others aren't so big.  Sometimes it feels like it might be nice to have been born Russian.  Maybe history has made the Russian cups huge ;-).  Either way, I know for sure that mine isn't big enough.  At the start of the flight I had two particular times in very turbulent air, not feeling like I was much in control.  I managed to keep it together and flew to the first turnpoint, then back to launch and across the lake to the second turnpoint.  But there, my cup was 9/10 full and when what felt like the hand of god grabbed hold of my glider as if to smite me, that damned cup started to overflow, like Niagra Falls!!

On the really bright side, the one landable field where I went down was gigantic (comparably) and flat and grassy and slightly uphill into the wind.  How perfect is that!!?  The only thing that would have made it more perfect would be an ice cream truck driving by on the little paved road beside me.  

Today is another day and the sky looks glorious.  I'm going to do my best to keep a good (better) attitude!!! ;-). 


11 comments:

Davis Straub said...

Here's the deal. You are not flying in the right competitions, but running them instead. You should definitely fly at the ECC in addition to Santa Cruz and Americus. They are a lot more fun.

There is a good evolutionary reason that American competition has moved to flatland flying.

haycraft said...

very honest point of view Jamie,most male pilots(I include myself) think the same, but will not admit to it in public.
Mark Haycraft Atos pilot who flies often at Saint Andre and Laragne
I think Davis has made a good point... all the best

Anonymous said...

SERIOUSLY. There is a whole world full of people not even brave enough to take flight. Don't be so hard on yourself, you are comparing your cup to those in the top 000000.1% :-}

Jochen Zeischka said...

Hmmm, mountain flying is a lot of fun too. In the right conditions. The problem with competitions is that you do not choose the conditions. They are there and you either decide to fly or not. Flatland comps have a broader window of enjoyable conditions. Mountain flying offers exceptional views and experiences you don't find in flatland flying.

Jamie Shelden said...

I disagree Davis. American competition has gone to flatland flying because towing is readily available and makes task days more possible because wind direction is pretty much irrelevant. The other reason is convenience. But, I don't think aerotow comps are more fun - I would MUCH prefer to footlaunch any day of the week and that's the reason I love doing comps in Europe. But anyway, that's just me.

And Jochen, you're 100% on with your comment about choosing conditions. The contrast between the 10 days of free flying around Italy right before the comp and the comp flying is huge. Before the comp we choose our conditions and had awesome, totally enjoyable flights. And now for the comp, we're flying when I would choose to stay on the ground on days when there are 30 paragliders crowding launch, making it impossible to get close enough to the hill to get a reasonable climb.

Davis Straub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Davis Straub said...

Of course, we can have different opinions, and while there are many different reasons for the prominence of flat land flying in the US, let me point out that pilots have voted with their feet. They want to fly in flatland competitions. They don't want to fly in the mountains. Both Chelan and Lakeview are essentially flatland competitions with foot launch. This basically applies to the Owens also.

Nothing in the US or Australia is anything like Europe, with mountain ridges every where and very skinny valleys. Tiny LZ's.

Aerotowing in the US is actually a big expensive hassle, that hasn't stopped its prominence.

This is just a tiny sample of my thoughts on this issue. I'm a quiet guy, so I keep much to myself.

Davis Straub said...

I just did an edit.

Davis Straub said...

BTW, I love flying and launching at Montecucco. I consider this flatland flying. The launch is the best in the world, as far as I know.

Of course, the last worlds there totally sucked.

Anonymous said...

I disagree having had a hard life and knowing many others I can tell you it doesn't make your cup any bigger or easier to deal with stressful situations, quite the opposite. I think your just afraid and with good reason not many people are brave enough to do what you do. And publicly competing against all the top pilots. No pressure. You have to have a ton of faith in yourself and be willing to risk a lot to win. Some people just have more of that and put in the hard yards of practice. My 2 cents.

scottdooogall said...

I like your articles Jamie - I think this one in particular hits on a truth inside all pilots whether they admit to it or not, having spent time with a great bunch of Russian pilots last year I find I cant disagree with your reasoning either. Hang Gliding is mostly filled with thoughtful analytical sorts given its a puzzle solving game I don't thing thats too surprising but someone said to me last night that the best pilots are the ones who hardly think at all - turning in lift and gliding in between.. duh!! arguing that those who think think and those who do do...