My love affair with paragliding began quite by chance in the summer of 1992. I was walking in Tryfan, Wales, and saw somebody ridge soaring above me. My immediate thought was, I have to do that!
Getting back to Liverpool I began to research paragliding. Luckily a brother of a friend was already a paraglider and was able to point me in the direction of a good flying school in Hawes.
I started to learn to paraglide the summer of 1993 with Gina. The first basics are to run down a hill where the gradient is the same as the glide angle. This means that your feet never leave the ground but the wing is actually flying and you learn control. Unfortunately, at this point, Gina decided that flying was not for her and I carried on without her because I was now completely hooked!
The next step is to run down increasingly steeper hills so that your feet begin to leave the ground and eventually you achieve 'lift'. Once 'lifted' you can then soar around.
My first solo flight was in Addleborough on 6th November 1993 - fabulous! Loved it!
Of course, one of the tricky things about paragliding is getting back to your car after you've landed. On cross-country flights I could end up many miles from where I started! With a pack weighing 40lbs, I was very keen to hitch a ride rather than walk and my mostly successful method was to carry a pieceof card with 'PARAGLIDING PILOT :)'. I would usually get a lift within 5mins - often from a driver that had a connection to flying - such as - pilots or handgliders.
My last flight was at Cloughhead in Cumbria in 1997. A bumpy, high wind thermals flight that I thoroughly enjoyed. But......I now had 2 little boys and the danger involved with paragliding could not be ignored by me any longer, and the thought of leaving them fatherless was too much for me and so I retired gracefully from the sport.
P.S. On our summer holiday in France (2011) I went paragliding once more, and this time with my eldest son!