Flying in traffic can be really intimidating,
there’s a lot to watch out for and it’s not that easy, because it’s not a skill
that you really have a lot of practice with until you get into a really crowded paragliding
site. So let me take you on a flight quickly, and
we’ll talk through some of the basics, some of the techniques that I use to stay out of
trouble when I’m flying in a lot of traffic. So this is pretty typical, flying in England,
we’ve got a couple of gliders on the ridge, conditions are light, it’s just soarable,
and we’re trying to avoid each other. Waugh. That’s the wake of the other glider.
Now this is the common pattern, you avoid anybody by turning to the right. So here the
pilots are approaching me, I must stay on the right, so I turn out to the right to avoid
them. It does mean that when I’m going this way,
I need to stay slightly off the ridge, well enough away that there’s enough space for
the guys on the inside. But now you’ve got a situation where somebody is turning and
I’m having to go in between the two rows of traffic. Now that’s what you try to avoid
when you’re flying, try to avoid making two lines of traffic because if that splits
into three there, there could be somebody on the outside that then you get four lanes
of traffic and then five, and it just builds up, and that’s when it gets very complex.
So to keep it simple, try and stay close to the ridge and when I do my turn now, I’m
checking well before I do my turn, I’m turning and if there’s nobody close by, I come back
in onto the ridge, right up tight, and I now form this line, so it makes it obvious for
the other pilots. I’m close to the ridge, they need to be flying on the outside. So
this orange glider now approaching me has got a lots of time to see what I’m doing,
he’s at the same level so he should be moving out round about now, He’s still too close,
now I’ve got the option, I can try and slope-land, but he really should be moving out.
There we go, now he’s moving out, and giving me space, that’s nicely done, but now the
other pilot is creating a problem, because I could fly into him, so he’s moving out.
you can see how it works. NOw I just hold my line, the other pilots
move out giving me a bit of space. Now when I’m turning this way, I have to
look first, make sure nobody’s coming up behind me,
Turn, and stay on the outside if there’s approaching traffic, these guys seem to be
continuing … no, he’s turning now, so I’m going to turn back to the right again,
give him some space. And now the orange glider is turning, so I’m
not going to come in on the ridge, I’m going to show him I’ve seen him, I’m going to
go way out, and only once he’s got his line on the ridge, I start moving in again.
I don’t want to trap him against the ridge and give him no space to react. Because you
must imagine, he could hit sink, he’d have to turn off the ridge and I’d be in the
way. So just give each other lots of space, try
and anticipate long ahead, and you’ll find you start making a smooth traffic pattern
just by the way you are flying. Also another thing to do is if you make your
ridge beats long you know if I’m going right to the end of the ridge, when it’s soarable
all the way along it doesn’t make much difference, if you make your beats long then there’s
less turning and less chaos in the traffic. Just do a long beat. Now I’m turning again,
I’ve got that orange glider on approach, I’m coming back to the ridge to show him,
ridge on the right, it’s my ridge. Having said that, I’ve got right of way but it
doesn’t mean I can fly straight into him and cause a midair collision, I have to be
responsible and have a look and if I see he is not reacting I’m going to jam out to
the left hard. OK, he’s turning out, that’s nice. I’ve
got to be careful now, because if I come in here and he drifts in onto the ridge, we could
be on top of each other. So I’m just keeping an eye on him, he’s
going out to look for lift there, that’s fine. I’m still aware of him now, because
now when I need to turn out I’m going to turn into him.
Now he’s kind of trapped me, on the ridge, so I’ve got nowhere to go. Now I don’t
need to be in this position. What I should have done is either flown faster or slower
so I wasn’t parallel with him. So now I’m following him around, giving
him a lot of space. If I just fly along the ridge hands up all the time, you’ll see
that I start catching up to the pilot in front of me, and I will end up creating a traffic
problem again. So what I should do is fly a little slower and that way I don’t bunch
up in the traffic. It’s the same as driving, really. Don’t
be afraid to fly with brakes on, you’re not going to stall your wing with just quarter
brakes on. You can see how it works, you just try and
look far ahead, give the other pilots space, try and establish your line close to the ridge.
Don’t go in too close so you’re going to bottom out or need to suddenly swerve when
you hit sink. Give yourself a good couple of gliders height
and distance off the ridge, but then keep a nice steady line, watch the pilots coming
up towards you. If you think they’re not going to turn in time, look, turn around,
fly the other way … it’s the easy escape. When you do your turns, make sure you always
check before you do the turn, make it really clear what you’re doing, so other pilots
that are maybe in your blind spot will see your arm out and your weight shift that helps
them identify which way you’re going to go.
And when you come out of a turn, try and tuck in onto the ridge if you’ve got the ridge
on your right, or stay out and make sure everybody has space if the ridge is on your left.
Wheeee. Scratching out the last little bit of lift there before slope landing. What a
nice touchdown. Super setup there, really cool.
So yeah, play safe, be nice to everybody. Give them some space. And if someone seems
to be a problem in the air have a chat to them later. You might find often it’s just
that you can’t see what they are seeing. You think that they are flying badly, but
behind you there was somebody that was blocking them from moving to where they needed to be.
So be kind, be safe, and enjoy your flying!