This story was sent by David Rice to the CHGPA listserv on 5/5/2002.
He describes his first hang-gliding flight after an absence of nine years.
Back To First-Flight Tales
Almost nine years ago to the day, my daughter made her entry into my world and everything changed. One of those things was the almost total drying up of all free time to pursue things like hang gliding. I really never meant to stop flying, it just sort of happened. Then I decided to sell my glider before even telling my wife I was thinking about it because I didn't want her to enthusiastically agree. Which would cause my twisted mind to somehow change my memory, make it her idea and therefore somehow her fault that I wasn't flying anymore. It was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. I don't regret it at all.
But like any full-fledged addiction, hang gliding was always there, right under the surface, ready to pop out any time the sky looked good or a bird circled over head.
Last spring, I decided it was time to make a comeback. I contacted Richard Hays and came out to one of the free ground schools before the MHGA meeting. There, for the first time, I picked up and ran with a Falcon. Wow things had changed. It was light, well balanced and didn't clang around when you moved. This was a much nicer glider than the Dream I used to fly.
Summer came and with it came corn and a new event at Oregon Ridge scheduled for every 12 hours or anytime the wind blew NE (whichever came first). I read the Pagen books and a bunch of old HG magazines Raean gave me but I didn't fly until November. Then I finally took a real lesson with Richard at Oregon Ridge.
Almost 50 flights later, I'm on launch at Bill's with Matthew and Karen on my wires. Ellis flew a little earlier and she was down in the LZ. Some cycles were crossing a little but with patience there was plenty of straight in to be had. Finally everything looked and felt good, I yelled 'clear', launched and found myself back in that very familiar place that I had been dreaming about for almost a decade.
The air was a little textured but nothing very radical. My flight plan was as simple as possible. Launch fly to the LZ and land. On the way to the LZ I noticed how much flowering dogwood could be seen from the air. It was really cool to see so much white peeking through the green of the forest.
I arrived at the LZ with Richard's voice in my head. "With speed comes safety, with speed comes control." So I flew fast. I was getting kind of bounced around when I got down low but it didn't feel much worse than Oregon Ridge on a really cross day. I just flew fast, flared and scored a no-stepper.
I think the most remarkable thing about coming back is that I had just as much excitement as I remember for my first mountain flight, but none of the panic that came along with it. I told Chris a few weeks ago that after I launched for my first mountain flight, I got into my harness and realized my knees were actually knocking. I thought that only happened in cartoons!
This time, it was just really, really fun.
I want to thank Matthew for all his help Saturday and all the help I'm going to ask for in the future. And I want to thank Richard Hays for all he did to make possible my 'triumphant return'.