Chief Coach Update
As the Chief Coach of your club, I am writing to you as we approach the long-anticipated moment when Paragliding will be starting again in certain parts of the UK. After what seems an eternity post winter and the COVID19 lockdown, I want to offer some friendly advice as to how we as a club should approach this from the Chief Coaches point of view.
As we are all aware, with the normal winter reduction in flying, coupled with the imposed lockdown, we will have suffered skill fade. What amplifies the risk even further is that many of us will be so desperate to fly that we potentially make poor decisions, through misplaced enthusiasm. This could lead to accidents that otherwise might have been avoided and in our area of the peaks that will attract public attention.
When the time comes, I encourage you all to abide by the Government policy on social distancing, whilst adhering to the BHPA guidelines on returning to flying. Which can be found via this link.
You are all qualified pilots and can therefore make decisions for yourselves. What follows is simply advice, which I have discussed with many Chief Coaches, Instructors and experienced pilots.
Before you fly, you should re-familiarise yourself with your equipment and examine it to make sure it is fully serviceable. If in doubt please ask a coach, if present, whilst maintaining Social Distancing and don’t pressure yourself into a rash decision just walk away and wait a few minutes to gather your thoughts.
Before you consider getting your feet in the air, it would be sensible to do a session of ground handling. I recommend that you only fly on sites that you are familiar and comfortable with and make sure you do not fly in weather conditions that are outside of your current capabilities, this goes for newly qualified pilots and very seasoned pilots alike, the perception and reality of ones skill may be very different.
The current lapse rates and thermal energy will make the first thermals you encounter this year very spicy indeed, particularly from any dark or burnt areas, I cannot stress that enough!
Please remember that you will be flying with fellow pilots who are as equally as rusty and eager to get in the air. Skies could potentially be congested, if they are, then I strongly advise that you land or wait for a better opportunity to take off.
It is far better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than flying and wishing you were on the ground.
So, in summary I would encourage you to approach the return to Paragliding in a safe, controlled and sensible way. We need to maintain the reputation of our club, respect the local freedoms we use to enjoy Paragliding, while trying not to become a burden on the NHS or rescue teams.
I will be in touch with you reference coaching in a separate email and I really look forward to seeing you all on the hill soon.