I’m a regular listener to Judith Mole’s excellent Podcast website theparaglider.com.
I find there’s a lot of useful information for flyers of all experience levels and for me it’s a great mix of stories and advice.
Her interview with Tim Bishop really struck a chord with me in terms of his prior experience in aviation and how he applied this to paragliding. After 15 years in skydiving as a competitor and an instructor, I can’t help but look for comparisons and ways to make the sport safer.
Simulation, in my opinion is a big advantage in training and to be able to mimick as much as possible on the ground before taking to the air can only be a good thing. His description of the paragliding simulator inspired me to do the same and I now have a pair of risers hanging from my garage roof where I can attach my harness and, on bad weather days, I can sit and get familiar with the various straps and adjustments. (Photos to follow!)
In skydiving training courses we have suspended harnesses so that students can practice their cutaway/reserve drills in a safe environment until the whole procedure becomes second nature. You don’t want to be fumbling around with handles when you burning through 2000 feet at 120mph trying to remember what to do with a certain type of malfunction!
The other topic that I found interesting was the issue of camera helmets. If you’re skydiving with a camera, according to British Parachute Association regulations, you must have at least 200 jumps (FAI C License), have the approval of your Cheif Instructor and the helmet must have some type of single operation release mechanism to allow you to jettison the whole assembly should you have an entanglement with your main or reserve canopy.
Many skydivers build their own helmets and to construct a helmet release system isn’t really that hard. When I made mine, I used a pair of Ski Boot ratchet straps and fixed a handle on to the pivot clip to allow for quick operation. Once this was checked by my Cheif Instructor I was good to go.
Of course, in a skydiving scenario things happen a lot quicker and every millisecond counts. However, I think I’d still be glad of a quick release helmet in some paragliding situations.
If you’d like to hear the full interview with Tim Bishop on Judith’s site, please click here. (Opens new window)