I generally pick up pace while walking towards the take-off on Tower Hill. It was a beautiful morning, the forecast promising sortable winds and the bushes & the leaves showing all the signs of strong winds. I wanted to practice some stalls to warm up for the upcoming SIV/Acro Course in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh followed by a Thermalling/XC Tour in the Bir/Billing, Himalayas.
The tall n lush grasslands were a delight to spread my old Ozone Octane FLX on and soon I was off. The rest of the team was still walking up to the launch while I had started swinging in some real deep wing overs followed by some ridge dancing with some high speed dives.
I then decided to climb a bit further to practice some stalls. I knew there was no reserve because we had decided to Reserve packing the previous night and since it began to rain we decided to let them dry overnight with the help of a dehumidifier before packing them today. Not the best example but since had done loads of stalls on this wing I didn’t think too much of it. The wing has never ever given me a problem on stalls & recoveries and I may have done around fifty on it.
I did a couple of stalls and decided to whistle around my way in the sky as a few other Pilots got airborne. I noticed a hawk who soon joined me in my aerial play. He first came in on my left wing tip, curiously scanning my wing and getting comfortable in my company. I know the routine well now as I usually encounter our sky buddies and thoroughly enjoy their company. He would then take the lead and I would simply follow, knowing well that he would take me higher. I would use this height to practice asymmetric spirals or wing overs and lose all my height to find him in a sweeping dive on my tail. He need not do that, no business really, but I guess he was enjoying playing with a stranger in the skies.
Nothing fascinates me as much as a bird in flight and especially if it’s someone flying so close to you. It was a delight to watch him fly, change the camber of his wings to get the desired speed n effect. He would sweep his wings back n shorten them to dive n gain speed. This guy or maybe a girl ( not important) was such elegance in the sky as he/she would come right in front to show off some aerobatic moves. So natural, such ease that I guess comes from doing what naturally comes to you. I love making eye contact whenever I can with these winged friends and these make some of my best moments in the sky.
This is what I figured through my birdbrain he/she seemed to tell me – that this is the moment, the only moment. Be free and be yourself. There’s nothing lacking or missing here, all is given and provided. Be grateful for this abundant grace and glory. Be free and fly. Words are mine but the wordless communication was much more beautiful. The vast sky and the gorgeous mountains conspired in this sharing. They all dwelled in silence, in their true being, pure and peaceful.
I had gained good height again, time for a deep stall. I went to the stall point, eased up on the brakes a wee bit allowing the glider to fly and then quickly stopping it again with a touch of brakes to make it Deep Stall. One needs to practice this and be good at this to make an initiation for the glider to do Helicos. The undersurface of the wing gets sucked upwards in a proper Deep Stall as the wing descends vertically down in a stalled state. Some more Wing Overs and I was back on the launch, top landing.
It was time now to guide students, to make them comfortable being in the air. We had some Student Pilots who we’re learning basic manoeuvres and soaring and others who were at the Club Level. A few we’re getting ready for their SIV Course who I guided in basic SIV exercises like the Dolphins and Reversals with Big Ears. A blessed life indeed I feel, to host lovers of flight, to serve them and share with them the freedom of free flying.