One of the hardest things about foot launched flying etc. is that every last thing is on a sliding scale. Conditions, equipment, skills – you name it… you can be totally cool one second and totally not cool the next. You can’t always tell by looking – exactly what you are signing up for. You can do one thing over and over again with no problems and then the next day it’s a huge problem.
What does this mean? It means that it’s really tough to tell where you are in time and space. It’s tough to tell where you are in terms of progression – there is no real good way to quantify. It’s a little bit tough to tell how you compare to the people you see on YouTube because you can’t quite quantify exactly what they have put into it. You can’t quite tell if what they’re doing is a 10 out of 10 on the crazy scale for them or if it’s only a 2 out of 10.
In the old days – we were a fair bit better off. We just went out and flew on her own and we did what felt right —-> intuition was the guide and we all knew that a thoughtful the progression was key. We didn’t have any crazy ideas what was possible because we had never seen anything.
The world has changed quite a bit and now we are seeing the repercussions ref: dudes crashing in suburbia, crashing into things in spectacular fashion for all to see. We all loathe hearing these stories and and makes us sad because generally we feel like the only real mistake is that the pilots are under trained and don’t have a strong team.
There’s absolutely no doubt that any monkey can fly and that any monkey can teach any monkey to fly. The greater question is if said monkey will somehow be able to figure out what’s cool and what’s not cool. This is where a guide, mentor, instructor, community and team comes in… The team helps you to figure out where you stand. They keep you in check.
I am speaking to the philosophical side of this pursuit. It’s actually way more interesting than the mechanics of flying. Anytime you hear somebody speak about it please listen in. Please give it some deep thought and take some time to get to know some people and get a feel for their idea of what’s cool. Then compare that to what they have invested. In many cases you will notice that people have dropped everything, lost wives and homes and jobs, moved into cars and sacrificed lots and lots of opportunities all for the sake of flying. This makes their flying exceptional and qualifies them for all sorts of things.
On the other hand – you might want to ask yourself how willing you are to make that kind of sacrifice. If you’re not willing to ditch your family and quit your job then how long will it take you to catch up to the aformentioned brother? Well – the answer is that you will never catch up.
Even when you do honor all of these important cornerstones – bad luck still happens. This is the prime reason why we don’t need to make it easier for the bad luck to strike.
Here’s my point – cross country, low flying over water, aerobatics, adventure flying, altitude records, flying next to the big mountains, flying in thermals and the sketchy take off and landing places are all for people who have sold their soul to the devil in one way or another. They have given up a lot in exchange for a lot of airtime, some flying skill and they have worked their way along the progression. They also accepted a high level of risk and have made a deal with the universe that they’re willing to take a chance and hope for the best. I do it.
Some of you may be wondering about the picture attached to this post – I included it because I want to point out that flying is not quite like beating a ball with a stick (ref: ball sport) – it’s not like running a marathon and it’s not like any other navigation that happens in two dimensions and has a pause button that you can access anytime. It’s a big deal and it’s not for the faint of heart. If you choose to engage in it then you would do well to do some soul-searching about it and would do well to tap into your spiritual side a little bit and harness the power of your intuition because an attention to these subtleties is probably your best asset in terms of staying out of trouble.
If you are at all new to the sport then you can strike the aforementioned adventure flying off the list in general. You have permission to just go fly around a simple field in simple conditions because we all know that it’s plenty cool enough to completely max out the fun scale. You can always take a selfie, fly next to your bro, gain a little altitude and take in the view – fly a little low and watch the grass go by etc. No one is trying to talk you out of that. Just don’t mindlessly adopt other peoples risk profile as your own risk profile.
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