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Dixon's Notes

12. Paragliding Protocol

As with most activities in life, there are loads of little details that can smooth the way to greater success. There's a real plus to feeling like your "jazz" is just right. Running into trouble with your flying mates and getting some level of scorn isn't a great way to engineer your flying experience. Here's a few ideas, send me yours and I'll do another Protocol Article -

It's not just a matter of you being gracious and thoughtful, being too gracious can be really annoying. Don't help unless you're asked, i.e. grabbing at someone's glider to spread it out without asking isn't a good idea - besides, a gust may catch the glider and the pilot off guard, it would have been better left in a rosette. On the other hand, helping load gear on or off the truck, picking up trash, showing up with WX info, landing to help a treed/injured pilot, pitching in more than your share of gas money, riding in the bed of the truck because you're sweaty and buying your local guides dinner is a great way to make friends.

When road tripping, give a call a couple of days ahead of your arrival so that the local pilots know you're coming. This isn't necessary everywhere, but can't hurt. If you ask the local instructor for help ask what fees you might expect if he/she shows you around the site and watches over you. Show up on time to meet the gang and have ALL your gear ready to go. Slowing down the group because you can't find your vario, boots, sun glasses or some other poop is rude. Don't fly with your car keys, let everyone know where they're hidden so that your car is useable for the group. Stow your wallet and stuff so that the group isn't stuck for hours looking for the items that fell out of your pocket.

Dogs at a flying site are usually annoying, especially when they run/piss on gliders, snap at pilot's heels or provide non-stop barking. Spending hours looking for a lost dog isn't considered "fun".

Set-up your kit away from the launch pad, unless you have permission. Don't walk below another pilot to set-up, unless you have permission. Always ask hang glider pilots who are alone if they need help. Hang pilots should be careful parking their trucks and/or then setting up their gliders right behind the paragliding launch area - paraglider pilots can be easily dragged back across the hill. Yell the word "STOP" if someone should abort a launch, "NO" sounds too much like "GO". Buddy up and check each other for pre-flight errors, have contingency plans for conditions changing. Land before you're flying illegally and certainly before someone in the group is late heading home.

Give launching pilots some room to exit the launch area without creating a possible collision. If it's a crowded flying site, land and give someone else a chance to fly - don't be a ridge hog.

Don't head out on stupid XC jaunts when there's no way in hell retrieval will be simple and cost the gang loads of time finding you. It's unreasonable to simple say you'll manage your own retrieval because it's really not cool to simply blow off a missing pilot. It's not cool to ditch ANYONE!

Always fly with a cell phone and everyone should know everyone's numbers. Know how to call for help, know where to direct help.

Kick dust for pilots setting up a landing or simply lean forward into the wind with a your arms out and a leg up to make a human arrow. After landing, move your glider right away so that other fliers know you're "ok". While waiting for a retrieve, or on launch to fly, and there's a bunch of rosetted gliders laying on the ground, lay them all on top of each other to keep them all from getting extra UV damage.

Learn how to use your radio and practice transmitting so that you can be clearly understood. Trying to interpret wind noise, static and garbled speech is REALLY annoying. Don't talk on the radio unnecessarily, listening to stock tips, mindless dribble or blow by blow bragging about your flight status sucks. Don't even own a voice activated (VOX) system. The finger switch push to talk switches (PTT) are famous for creating open mic problems, so be leery of using them too.

Get with your local hang glider pilots and see if there's anything you and your flying buddies can do that would help them enjoy their flying with paraglider pilots.

Please be sure and send me some more ideas on this thread.