Thoughts, Tips and How to Deal with Death

Hi, I’m Chris Santacroce. The U.S. handler for advanced, Nova and Gin gliders. I’m talking to you today about the sorest of
subjects. The subject of summertime fatalities and it’s kind of a long list
at this stage during the summer but the main thing to know is that this is a
little bit typical of how things go during a flying year and the world’s a
little different now and that if anything happens in the world we find
out about it immediately so it’s not that this hasn’t been happening over the
years it really truly has the if you look at the graph you’ll see that in the
winter months there are not so many accidents or fatalities and then sort of
peaks at some point during the summer never know where and then it’ll taper
back off I want to circle back on the subject because I think every pilot
starts to wonder what they’re supposed to learn from any of the things that
they hear about and what they can do in their flying life to make it so that
none of these unsavory things happen to them so when we start off we kind of
have to identify the things that happened this particular year knowing
that they’re not that special but they are more like typical of the huge
variety of things that can happen in the 3d flying world so starting from the top
this year we’ve had everything from pilots suffering from physiological
factors of flight basically medical emergency in flight that led to a
fatality we’ve had Spiral fatalities we’ve had forgotten leg straps we’ve had
flying into the rotor with deflation it’s worth knowing that when I talk
about all these accidents I’m blending together paramotor and paraglider events
and that’s just to make it simple if you’re a paraglider pilot we’re talking
to you and if you’re a parameter pilot we’re also talking to you it really
doesn’t change things that there’s a motor on the back or not a motor on the
back we’re all in the same game foot launch flying navigation in three
dimensions with no pause button and we’re all subject to the same variables
so having said that about what’s transpired you know during the year the
greater question starts to be how does it happen
how do we as pilots defend against it ongoing the number one thing to remember
is that summertime is the time when all of us think about going out spreading
our wings it just feels right number one that’s when the days are the
longest number two that’s when the weather supports it number three if
you’ve ever tried to do something scary while you’re cold or shivering it’s
nearly impossible on the other hand when it’s warm out it’s really super easy to
take risk so check that out and you’re flying you may notice that when you’re
just wearing a t-shirt and shorts it feels a lot better to go out and do
something that might be a little bit more risky one of the biggest things to
remember you know as you try to manage your risk during a season is that it
might not be worth it for you to go out and just bore a hole in the sky all
summer long statistically speaking it’s the the graph would show that it’s
better to stand down a little bit starting in about June and all the way
through July and August that means just sample a little bits of flying here a
little bit of flying there stay in the game go grab a couple good flights but
maybe don’t just go crazy during that time of year because that’s a statistics
over the decades show that that’s when there’s a much greater likelihood of
running into trouble if you think about it you’ve got another nine months in
which you can maybe go big right wait till it’s November when the sun’s a lot
lower in the sky and maybe just consider moderating your activity when it’s peak
summer when the conditions are strongest and when there’s the biggest what we
call random factor random factor is an interesting study that’s the likelihood
that something unexpected will sneak into your reality if we circle back on
the fatalities that we’ve had this year then random factor would be the
randomness that you’d be suffering from some physiological thing and combine
that with some sort of medication and then have that combined with
maneuvers that might culminate in some sort of you know unsavory in some cases
tragic event what are the odds that that could happen
statistically incredibly low but there are some things that help that along and
so yeah just generally speaking stand down a little bit during the
summer months kind of cherry-pick your conditions spread your wings a little
bit when it’s wintertime and having said all that we’ll move on to the sort of
mental aspect the energetic aspect and the philosophical phenomenon of having
people in our world that suffer fatalities and people in our world that
get hurt and it’s a very interesting study it’s again it’s not my favorite
thing to talk about but it does seem like the average paraglider or paramotor
pilot doesn’t quite know how to process and doesn’t know how to change and
rather take the experience of having friends get hurt or friends get killed
and then turn it into something good so here we go the nuts and bolts of flying
are only so interesting pull up the glider go fly burn gas land it turns out
that just about anybody can do it and just about anybody can teach anybody to
do it and if you are lucky you could cruise along and have a relatively
uneventful time with it but you know the question starts to be how in the world
does it change from something so simple to something so complicated and then how
does that happen into a fatality and when you do sort of post-mortem on this
situation and what led to this what we find out is that we never know it’s it’s
way beyond us to know exactly what brought these people to this point and
what you know particular circumstances made it so that they’re no longer with
us but we do recognize some commonalities and so one of the things
the number one thing that we know to be careful with is our words okay and so
what I mean specifically is when it comes to dying as a pilot you do not let
that into your reality we know that it’s possible but it’s just also possible
getting out of bed in the morning or driving down the road and we don’t think
about the possibility of that happening particularly in our driving or in our
getting out of bed and so we should keep it the same with our flying so over the
years I’ve been around people who spoke about the possibility of dying and how
it could be deadly and how you know they were risking it all and how it was worth
it and it’s it’s basically a little bit the life is his disposable life is cheap
sort of mentality and I would caution every pilot to not use any of those
words and to not slip into that mindset when you go to participate in
paragliding or powered paragliding it’s not in your reality that you could die
doing it you just don’t let it in you don’t use those words simple the number
two thing is energy right it you you can stop short of saying the words but if
you have to keep your energy as such that you’re not letting the possibility
that something could bad could happen into your reality and so when you do
that then it kind of helps you to make smart decisions you don’t go places
where a bad thing could happen you don’t do things in which a bad thing could
happen because it’s not in your reality that you know you could have anything
bad happen on your flying day and so be precise not only with your words but
also be precise with your thoughts and so in our school when we have somebody
who says well you know I know I could get killed doing this gulp yes and you
could get killed doing anything do us a favor
this is what we say to the student do us a favor don’t use those words
let’s use some choice words that will lend to us having like a good up energy
we replace those things like a notion like that with something like let’s go
out there and fly really smart and let’s be really savvy with our flying today
and let’s put on a good show that makes people look like we really have it
together and so we just more for that morbid into something positive choice
with the words and choice with the energy the number of three things that
you can do is be careful about who you fly with and be careful about the way
that the group speak happens and so when you find yourself among flying friends
make sure that you not with the life is cheap crowd I put a study on it by
hanging out with the BASE jumping crowd and a little bit the skydiving crowd and
there was a big contingent in which the people just kind of feel like hey I’ve
got nothing to lose you know why not risk it all today you know I think that
it’s best to try to hang with people who are in the life as precious crowd and
those are the people who treat themselves as a pilot as a sort of a
fragile egg they know that they’re not really up to taking any knocks of any
kind and as such then they don’t do any flying that’s gonna have any risk of
having a weird landing in a weird place of having something go wrong and they
generally just sort of keep it between the lines keep it in the box and you
know there are other clues the life is cheap crowd are a lot of times burning
the candle at both ends so they don’t do smart things like they don’t take pride
in nourishing themselves and hydrating and their overall health they’re usually
no offense but they’re the smokers of the world and my suggestion to any pilot
is to just be careful about who you’re with I’ve noticed that people who were
otherwise generally kind of mild-mannered conservative thoughtful
could fall into the wrong crowd and then all of a sudden be making desperate
decisions along with the group so a little bit careful about who you hang
out with number four thing would be connection right if you put a study on
energy and if you’re of the mind to kind of tune into subtleties you might have
run across this notion when you get on an airplane and you’re looking at the
boarding area you look at all the people and you make sure that they look like
they’re a bunch of people who are probably going to be there at the end of
the flight right that have a lot of purpose that a lot of have a lot of
connection the people that are here and in other words it doesn’t look like a
bunch of people that are about to die and so personally why not before I get
on a jet I look at the people and I go no way those people are here to stay and
if I ever look at the group and I go wow those people are half one foot out the
door they’re about ready to go they don’t look like they’re gonna make it
through the day you can bet that I’ll just walk the
other direction now I’ve never had to do that but I have walking away from a lot
of takeoffs and I’ve walking away from certain groups of people that I didn’t
want to go engage in flying activity with and so my suggestion is check the
energy in the group and you will have some days where you go to fly and you
will notice that the group energy is is is desperate and and it’s not like the
place where you can have a good time you know relatively safety safely so the
number five thing is grounding and so my suggestion is that if you put a study on
some of the people who have left us sometimes you find that they were a
little bit detached like they were far gone on planet I fly every single day
nothing is more important not to attach to my my sort of worldly things not
attached to particularly their employment their family their business
their their life on the ground they’re just in the clouds and I think anybody
who’s really indulged in flying would know that feeling you just fly so many
hours of the day you in the end of the day you feel a little
bit area and it’s a little bit of a high and it’s really a little bit the magic
of what we do but that long-term detachment in that way can make it so
that you lose your attachment to the earth into the ground and to being here
and it’s my observation that sometimes when that gets a little out of hand that
will sometimes lead a person to some places where some bad things can happen
and so stay attached to your life on the ground and to people and make it so that
there are a lot of reasons for you to be here you know having people relying on
you needing to be somewhere later in the day or the next morning having some
things that you’re working on having some variety in your life these are all
ways that you can ground and you know you’re starting to see the direction I’m
taking here when you go to a take off and you have five or ten things that are
happening later on in the week that are all are all really important and you
really need to be there then all of a sudden your decision-making is different
I put a study on that as a tour guide you know I did 17 18 years of guiding in
Mexico and around the world every single year for at least a few weeks and the
feeling of going there with a group and being responsible for taking care of the
group was completely different from the feeling of going someplace to just fly
on my own I was Red Bull guy for 13 years and one of the prime directives
was do not ball it up in front of the crowd right so when I went to go do my
demo or do my job that’s the one thing that I knew would make the whole thing
come to a screeching halt is if one of us blew it in the public eye and we
never did that that gave me some boundaries and it kind of grounded me
and in place of just going crazy and being that guy I would just reel it in a
few percent and it me out of harm’s way for all those years
so I know that’s a lot to digest and but I really think that all of those are
important cornerstones for all of us not just in our flying lives but in the rest
of our lives and so my strong suggestion to anyone who’s engaging in this is just
yes put a study on the things that happen and do your best to find out what
the inside scoop was and when you look at the at the people that we’ve lost
this year you will not find one particular common thread and that makes
it tough and so you have absolutely no choice but to naturally be diligent on a
daily basis and to look out for common pitfalls we talk about that a lot but
mostly be mindful of your energy because when something happens that a person is
no longer on this planet it’s not usually just a random event it’s usually
if you talk to the family and you talk to the friends you find out that it was
a little bit somehow setup or engineer not on purpose not at all it’s setup and
engineered by forces that are beyond us and it’s really important that we
counter that by grounding by anchoring by being thoughtful with our words and
our energy and I would encourage anyone who sees this video to afford along or
share the notion with friends and when you have a buddy who starts to get just
a little bit out there and a little bit cuckoo and a little bit detached and you
know they’re not grounded they’re not well but they’re flying anyway that’s
our call to action we jump in and say hey buddy
let’s let’s bring it in perhaps you know help that person to to dive in on any of
those five or six things that we mentioned I’m Chris santa croce and
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