SAFA Skysailor Magazine

31 November | December 2023 SKY SAILOR Recently, I was setting my hang glider up on one of our local launches which is situated next to a road, when a car pulled up next to me and two young blokes came over to have a look. In keeping with our PR code, I answered their questions while completing my set up next to the road. The road has a guard rail that runs around separating it from the small, grassy cliff launch. It’s always handy to have assistance on launch when it’s available, so I asked if they were willing to help, and they were very keen. I explained what I wanted them to do: one on the nose wires and one on the keel. The glider had its tail into wind and had to be spun 180 degrees while swinging one wing over the guard rail. My glider has a small A-frame and while lifting the keel it’s possible for the harness back plate to slip over the two back wires instead of under. This was the beginning of my woes. With one bloke on the front wires and one on the back, I started turning the glider. With one wing facing the wind and the other over the fence, I was also trying to pull the nose down as it was about to come around into wind. The harness was now preventing me from pulling the nose down, and the wind was trying to grab my wing while the bloke on the front wires was kneeling on the ground, holding the wires just above the base bar. If I hadn’t been so concerned about my developing situation, I may have thought this young bloke was paying homage to me as ‘The Great Man Eagle from the Sky’. However, I was trying to do about five things at once, confused why this bloke was nearly lying on the ground, while I was doing my best to keep the into-wind wing from lifting and firmly asking my front wire man to pull the nose down. When I finally got the harness backing plate where it was supposed to be, the man on my keel must have sensed my frustration/confu- sion, and clarified, “He’s scared of heights.” Why didn’t he tell me earlier? At the time, he was on flat ground, about 10 feet back from the edge, while trying to get his centre of gravity as low as he could. I managed to get the nose down and turn the glider into wind, then, as politely as I could, thanked them for their assistance and said I would be right from then on. In future, if asking for assistance, I will in the first instance check if eager helpers are also okay with heights! Lesson Learned, Lesson Shared by Rick Donaldson Photo: Bruce Wynne