Saturday, July 6, 2013

My first top landing!

Sarangani flysite
The past few days have been quite exciting for me. It's been momentous because of my "first attempts" at trying some new paragliding skills.  Last January 7,  I did my first solo flight. That was six months ago. Since then I have had some time to learn more about flying and make some progress for my beginner pilot certification

Recently paragliders from all over the country gathered in Sarangani near General Santos to enjoy some flying time. It was my first time to visit this beautiful province and fly at the  SAFI Ranch. We had 4 glorious days of flying and even managed to squeeze in a dive at the Lemlunay Dive resort. Our last day in Sarangani was the most exciting day for me as I did my first top landing.  

A top landing is when you land in the same area where you take off.    For beginners like me it can be frightening to attempt to top land. Our take off point was 970 ft above sea level where the winds were turbulent at times. Executing  a top landing could be tricky for my skill level.

Take off site
 But with the guidance of my paragliding instructor Buko Raymundo I managed to do so safely. I   soared up to 1,540 feet and “crabbed” my way slowly back to  the ridge where I took off.  I hovered on top of the ridge with strong winds while i tried my best to do a top landing.

 It took me several attempts to land and there were moments where I felt lots of rough and bumpy winds much like a strong air pocket that you feel when riding a plane. It was nerve-racking. Then I heard Buko say "look at me, focus on me Monique".  That's all I needed to hear.  In a situation when your heartbeat is racing and there's a million things going on in your head it is easy to panic and lose focus.  So zeroing in on a target (in this case my instructor) and staying locked on that focal point really helped. I made three unsuccessful attempts and came close to landing only to abort because of the strong winds. But I was determined to top land and I tried one last time and finally made it!
With Buko after my top landing
In this flight I was able to soar and fly for a whole hour and two minutes! It was just lovely up there facing Sarangani Bay and being able to share the skies with some very awesome pilots. It was really special...

I have a long way to go before I can become an intermediate pilot and there is still so much to learn. So I am certain there will be more “firsts” for me to experience. Until then, staying UP is Great!

With pilot Beng Pascual

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