In August the Guernsey Paragliding Club travelled to Flying Frenzy in Dorset in order to train two of their members to fly. Flyability has worked with them to loan a Sanderson buggy for training and to help them buy their own buggy for use on Guernsey. We also granted a Flyability scholarship to help fund the costs of training.
Their visit was reported in the Dorset Echo: here
Roy Menage, a Club Coach with Wessex, was assisting with the training and has sent us the account and photos below.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with the Flying Frenzy team of Andrew Pearse, Gary Mullins and Trainee Instructors together with a cast of thousands to help Matt and Adie, a couple of adrenaline junkies from Guernsey, to realize their dreams of paragliding so that they can enjoy the pleasure of our sport on that tiny island. Oh, by the way, their legs don’t work as designed so they use wheelchairs.
But hey, why should that be a limiting factor? They were able to raise 2500 euros to have a paragliding buggy custom made for them in Finland. They then brought their kit over to Dorset where they worked with Andrew and team to start to learn to fly. Paragliding in a wheelchair brings its own challenges. Like how can you side-land? And how can you use the speed bar? But challenges are made to be overcome and they will be.Getting airborne proved to be easier than you might think. With a couple of burley blokes (ok… not so burley and, often, past retirement age) and a length of rope, the instructor stands behind to do the inflation followed by a tug-o-war with a reluctant wheelchair and off they go.
One of the problems with this particular buggy is that the wheels get in the way of arm movement potentially restricting the flare. But Matt soon mastered that process (at the cost of his favourite tee-shirt getting scuffed from the wheel).
We also had another buggy, supplied by Flyability, which looks like it should be a bit easier in the air and is also better suited to tandem flying.
This is Adie in it. Turns out it’s reasonable in flight but not so comfortable after a bit of airtime. I expect that some memory-foam padding will help.
In the first few days, despite dodgy weather, they were able to make steady progress through their EPs, completing within a little over a week. Then on Wednesday, they progressed from the small school hills to the big boys’ playground of Bell Hill. This can be quite daunting for most new pilots but they handled it very well. With a bit of breeze, getting them airborne was much easier and they both were able to experience being above take-off for the first time. Matt, in particular, managed a bit of soaring before heading for the bottom landing again. After a swift turn-around pickup from the bottom field in the 4×4, they were able to go again.
By the end of Thursday they were exhausted and ready to wind down for the journey home on Friday. Andrew and Kim laid on a very nice BBQ to celebrate and wish our new friends well.
Thanks to the British weather, they were unable to complete their training but they will be back next year to complete this exciting new phase of their adventuring.
Well done guys. See you again next year.