So many things happened since the fall of 2019, it seems like your last flight was a century ago. You did the winter stuff, worked hard, day dreamed about great 2019 flying moments, and day dreamed again about your upcoming 2020 flying season. You can’t wait to take to the air. Even if you had the chance to fly a bit during the winter and went south to somewhere warmer, or if you decided to face the cold for a few minutes and took to the air over the snow covered landscape, still you can’t wait to just get up there, it’s been so long. Spring is here, out the gate we go, you can’t wait. Your urge channelizes your attention to simply pull the gear out of winter storage, get with your friends, get up there, and ahhh… what a feeling, in the air, how cool, what a rush… You can’t wait. But wait, maybe you should! Take five!
Invest five minutes before leaving from home. Have a second cup of coffee, look outside, and visualize your flying day. Think about how ready you really are. Yes, yes, equipment is in good shape and inspected, reserve repacked, you’re in a good place mentally… But wait… your reflexes might be rusty, the winds are just a tiny bit stronger than you would like today, you’re not too sure you remember how to get out of the onset of a stall, you can’t fully confirm if your radio battery is recharged sufficiently, you can’t find the warm gloves you normally use for Spring… Stop. Regroup. Don’t rush, and take the extra time to analyze and think. That won’t make you miss the first thermal of the day and even if it does, your first day out will actually be better for it.
And come to think of it, set yourself a safe and decent goal for your first flight. Yes, you broke your flight duration or distance record late last Fall. Or you bought new gear this winter and can’t wait to impress your friends. But there is no need to resume right where you left off last time. Be kind to yourself, and resume slowly. Ensure your first flight is well within your limits, that your flight plan is clear, that your take-off check list is orderly in your head. Fly extra safe and second-guess nothing. Have at least basic emergency gear with you when you fly, starting with reliable means of communications. Ensure that you remain in full control of all phases of flight, and work for a smooth landing on target.
And for the first few flights, keep that same level of extra awareness. Prepare for a great season, a fun season, a safe season. Use unfavourable days, including the reduced flying due to Covid-19, to read up and solidify your sense and understanding of flight safety. Use HPAC references available here (for example the guide on good practices), videos on HPAC youtube channel, or the collection of Scoop.it articles. If you’re a student, ensure you review the good work done and the notes in your training logbook for hang glider pilots or for paraglider pilots and show up to your instructor ready.
Safety starts within your head, it doesn’t happen by accident! Have great and safe flights!
Your HPAC Safety Committee
Bastien Dufour, HPAC Québec Director, Safety Portfolio