Last weekend I went to the mountains with a couple of friends to try speed riding again. We all took turns at flying and gave each other feedback on how to best fly the canopy, as it is very different to when we jump it from planes. When you ground launch like we do, we fly slower than normal and we don’t get enough cell pressure in the canopy which means that it turns slower and is more unstable. But we were really getting there and having lots of fun.
The last flight I was going to do started out just fine, after take off the slope turns left, goes around a bend and turns right again. So of course I started turning left after take off when I felt the canopy fly well. But nothing happened. I desperately tried pulling the risers to make it go left but I had no control and it was turning right instead heading right for the forest. I was being pulled sideways with a lot of force, and the canopy was moving faster than normal. I saw the trees come towards me and pulled as hard as I could in the toggles to get some lift – I floated up quickly and high enough to just clear two power lines and then continued straight through the forest! I managed to steer between the trees, and kept the toggles pulled as far down as possible without breaking in order to stay up – it was so hectic and happened so quick, and as I cleared the last trees and came out on the slope again I heard my boyfriend scream. I tried touching down in order to get another grip, but my canopy was blown sideways and I ended up with a nice little crash landing instead:-)
The whole thing was quite scary and I’m glad I reacted as fast as I did. The ground was hard with ice and the trees tall and unforgiving so it wouldn’t have looked good if I’d crashed in the forest. I do think a side wind which had just picked up was the cause, but cannot be sure.
Take a look at the video to see how fun it can be under normal conditions!