Colourful fabric designed into a marvellous wing, floating over a lush green mountain forest, then climbing gracefully in a smooth thermal is ‘ high art in motion. The pilot underneath is one with his wing, one with the sky, experiencing a zen moment…everything is perfect.
We were back on the take off and the discussion is generally about the flying conditions for the day and how promising the day looked. Everyone would get busy with their pre flight preps, mushroom their adorable canopies, each in love with their wings, and queue up for take offs. There are two take offs at Billing and both are pretty packed, the lower one dominated by the local tandem pilots & rightly so.
To add to our flying fun and maximise learning, we had made teams of two with simple tasks set depending on the conditions of the day. Three hours of Thermalling ( bulding stamina ), climbing up the higher ridge behind, practice transitions, red temple ( on the 4th ridge from take off (& back. The flying weather hasn’t been too great lately. The low Inversion doesn’t allow good climbs unless you make it to the upper ridge behind & further back where it is more unstable, offering much higher climbs.
Soon we were all airborne, and especially for the first timers the thermal combat was on. Its not easy to stay in the thermal in the beginning. You keep falling in & out of the thermals. You are, at the same time trying your level to fly your wing actively & as efficiently as you possibly can. You need to be aware of all the ‘ Thermalling Etiquetts’ and the ‘ Rules of the air ‘. And these were crowded skies with limited altitude ceiling. There were reports of mid air collisions and Reserve Deployments. It wasn’t surprising when Sajid reported a mid air in the house thermal and I saw clearly from the take off point, a pilot successfully deploying his Reserve Parachute & safely coming down over the forest in his bright red circular canopy.
The redt of thr day was pretty uneventful with pilots honing their skills and flying their best. Alok & me managed to get to the upper ridge, managing to reach up close to 9000 ft. Viz, along with Remy & Sajid reached the temple. Sajid & Remy had some interesting stories going with their landings while viz made it back. Imran got a lot from this flight that would soar his confidence in mountain flying. I had some beautiful moments with two Griffin vultures whi flew along for a bit. Rohit, Alok n me flew together for sometime. We were all connected on radio and were aware about where each one was in the sky space.
Its so beautiful to be flying, to be flying with your friends & Instructors, to be challenging yourself & learning something so cool & awesome, to be free from all the cares in the world and to be so truly aluve to the active present. I don’t know of many other things that bring you so close to the beauty and power of now.
Let’s keep flying…