Ground Suckers - ParaglidingSo as I progress through my paragliding “career”, I’m with hit new terms and sayings unique to the sport.

Skydiving is full of them. For example:

  1. Hop-n-Pop : low altitude jump where you deploy straight out the door.
  2. Whuffo: A person who doesn’t jump out of planes. (Derived from an odd mutation of the sentence “Whuffo you wanna jump out of a plane?!”)
  3. Horny Gorilla: (Yes this is a thing!) A small group of skydivers form a circle in free fall then flip on to their backs, linking feet and beating their chests like gorillas.

There are many more but you get the idea.

Now I discover a term in paragliding that I’ve never heard of but resonates with me on many levels.

Ground Suckers

On many of the podcasts I listen to, not to mention books and blog posts, the best guys in this sport, ie Jocky Sanderson, Bruce Goldsmith, Gavin McClurg all say that you should avoid the Ground Suck Crew.

These are the people who sit on hills with their kit unpacked pondering weather, life, chatting about paragliding but not actually doing it! They make all the effort to get 15kg+ of kit up a 1000 foot hill but never make use of it or wait until the end of the day and do a 10 minute top to bottom flight.

It may be my naive enthusiasm or just my inherent love for the sport but I’d much rather do 5 top to bottom flights and climb back up 5 times than sit on a hill achieving nothing. At least this way you’re in the air, learning and progressing.

Learning by Association

Many years ago when I was in Arizona at a skydiving competition I spent more than a week training with the some of the World’s best. I’d sit in the plane with them, I’d see them exiting the aircraft and chat to them afterwards.

Purely by association I could feel my skydiving improving. I’d watch them doing their “thing” and think, “Ah! That’s how it’s done!”

These guys were doing upwards of 20 jumps a day, every day. They were super current and at the cutting edge of their sport. Just being near these guys was enough to accelerate my training and open my eyes to how professionals operate in the sport.

The one thing I am very grateful for when I started paragliding was my instructor’s insistence to get me flying solo as soon as possible. I flew on my own on the first day of EP training and it was a wonderful experience. There was no more waiting around, he knew the conditions were good so he just let me go for it.

Waiting around for that perfect thermalling day seems to me to be a waste of time.

Sometimes you just have to fly.