Jeff Sinason with his new EN-B Ozone Buzz Z5 at sunrise ready for a day of towing at Utah Lake.
Chris Lee: Jeff Sinason and I attended a three-day SIV clinic May 6-9 with Brad Gunnuscio from ParaglideUtah.com. Brad is on the US Paragliding Team and was the 2008 USHPA Paragliding Instructor of the Year.
We arrived a couple days early and stayed a couple days later to fly the famed Point of the Mountain soaring site. As luck would have it, the North Side was working the day before we arrived and the day we left, but not at any point in between so all our recreational flying was on the smaller South Side. Still a joy to fly for hours on end in the smooth slope lift coming off of Utah Lake.
The first day of the SIV clinic was all ground school. We covered towing behind a boat (a number of participants had never towed before), emergency procedures, equipment setup and some of the incidents we were going to simulate. Each participant hooked up their harness to a simulator and Brad checked adjustments to make sure everything was optimal.
The second day was our first out on the water. We each got two flights that day before gathering storms ended the day. First flight was asymmetric collapses, weight-shifting opposite the collapse and into the collapsed side with steering control. Also full-frontals.
Second flight was the same maneuvers on full speed bar.
The third scheduled day, Sunday, was rained out, and the clinic was postponed to Monday. Jeff and I took a drive up to Inspo (Inspiration Point) to look at the launch at the next-most famous site in the Salt Lake area. Got some more flying at the South Side in the evening, high winds and passing storm cells kept most people away but there was a brief window there for the desperate few that showed up.
On Monday, we continued bright and early with a flight working on Spirals. I kept exiting the maneuver prematurely right when the G's started building, a little self-preservation subconsciously kicking in.
Fourth flight of the clinic we moved on to Full Stalls. I had trouble holding the stall in the stable "sweet spot" where the wing is flying backwards.
Fifth flight was when everything finally came together for me. I got the full stall three times and I also was able to enter a full nose-down spiral dive with control in and out of the maneuver.
Last flight of the clinic was the planned reserve toss. Simulated an asymmetric collapse and tossed out the reserve on the other side. Everything went as planned but we had a decent 12-15mph wind going so that ground speed skimming over the water right before impact was kind of intimidating. Nothing to do but assume the PLF position and get wet!
Lots learned, so much crammed into so little time. The week flew by. I'm going to have to do another clinic soon to build a bit more confidence in the full stall and spiral maneuvers before I feel like they're really tools ready at my disposal. But the asymmetric and frontal exercises went a long way in proving the wing can take those collapses and still remain completely airworthy and steerable. While active flying will prevent many of them, collapses will still happen, but now we've proven to ourselves that they can be managed.
Repacking the reserve in the hotel after deploying it in the SIV clinic.
Point of the Mountain - North Side launch
The view from Brad's back deck. Yes, that is an Astroturf-covered launch/landing zone in his backyard!
(skip to the end to see the boat landing!)
We are a group of paragliding pilots based in the St. Louis area.