Fear is nothing but your imagination.
When you Fly there is a risk. Being a mucho is not a welcome prerequisite because it can be a fatal flaw. I’d say Fear is the opposite to the mucho ego. Fear allows risk assessment and better judgment. Pilots who FEAR, will keep better safety standards and take lower risk levels. That’s a good prerequisite to have and much preferred asset for a longer pilot life. Fear has its purpose, but can be overwhelming. Sometimes we need to drop the level of fear back enough that it doesn’t cloud your clarity of thought, to better control your physical in flight actions or reactions.
Flying can be a challenge yes, remember that it’s 1/2 the fun to. As you progress you learn to assess the level of risk you are taking and willing to make. Risk to reward ratio. As a beginner paragliding pilot it’s best to stick to your taught schooled environment do not step outside of this box until your comfort level has increased, fly within familiar surroundings.
The same applies if you’ve had an accident or scare. That’s your warning, learn from it and take a step back. Don’t be the mucho but simply start slow, test the air like you’re a beginner and stick to familiar surroundings in calm conditions. Trust that your Mojo will come back in time.
Overwhelmed by FEAR - Here’s what to do.
Focus on the now, what is happening right now?
Everything is alright really now isn’t it?
Tell yourself that it is ok and it’s only your imagination. With the methods below you will able to stop those thoughts which is creating your feeling of fear.
What you need to remember fear is a future thought something you are imagining not realatity at this moment and not true of what is happening right now.
Of course when a problem arises then you need to deal with it at that moment, as we all do! We deal with it to the best way of our ability, yes?
Even if your hanging off the edge of a cliff. You must put all your focus and strength together to fix the problem at hand to survive. However if your unable to focus in the moment of NOW and you let fear overwhelm you then you will surely die. Keep reading because we will now show you a powerful method on which to build a better mindset to conquer your fear.
TIPS to conquering fear
1. Before flight, conquering fear method.
Take some time, sit down close your eyes and take deep slow breaths, concentrate on your breaths. Feeling the air coming in filling your lungs and body and exhale slowly, but naturally with each breath feel the calming effect it has on your body. Now you are where you want to be, in a relaxed and serine state of being. Smile and tell yourself it’s all good, I am excited, I am not afraid, I feel good. I am present in the moment, in the now.
Anytime you feel fear pull your thoughts together and focus on your breathing again.
As you practice the method above the simpler it gets, you will be able to put yourself in a better state of mind quicker, by simply focusing your thoughts. Now your able to take control of your thoughts and change your emotion.
PARAGLIDER PILOT TIPS CONTROLLING YOUR IN FLIGHT FEAR
2. On launch.
Coastal - higher winds or new sites your nerves and fear can be heightened.
First don’t be in a hurry, watch other pilots. In particular the pilots not so experienced if there able to handle it well, that gives me hope! Because I can probably handle this to. However you need to have a certain
amount of experience to evaluate what the other pilots capabilities are also. If your a new pilot then asking the duty pilot / safety officer should be your first priority. If your nervous then tell him, he would
normally then give you more attention and care.
2. Standing on launch ready to go?
This always helped me when attempting to launch at an unknown site, different or boarder line conditions which I might not be use to.
a). First I tell myself I am not going to launch right now, but just test the air.
b). I pull the glider up only half way, that way I can judge how it’s like and put it down ok, then I pull it up further again testing the conditions and feeling the glider as I inflate.
c). I’ll keep the inflation going if all seems well. Still keeping the thought "I’m only testing, with no intension of launching yet."
d). So with the glider inflating well and standing above my head - oh’ ok it feels good, it looks good and I feel good myself, no reason not to go then is there?
e). So with it feeling this nice, I launch.
If the glider is standing above your head calmly it’s the best indication of the air. If it is twitching or turning, thrashing about - this could be a good indication of winds strength in lee rotor or thermal on launch. Wait or don’t fly if your not feeling good about going then don’t. Remember it’s always your own choice.
4. Coastal strong winds - You try to launch and fail.
Your fearful thoughts come back and increases with each failed attempt. Note it is above your ability or too strong.
This is a case of
a) Don’t fly - Practice groundhandling more
b) Judgment call? - Smaller wing
c) Take an anchor if conditions are still safe to do so. An Anchor is used when winds are too strong on launch. The anchor is another pilot who stands behind and holds your harness keeping you on the ground till the glider is fully inflated and you say your ready to go. If the anchor let’s go too early or your feet leave the ground before your glider is correctly inflated. That’s a bad Anchor, which is why you should make sure he knows what he’s doing.
3. Thermals - Turbulent fear factor
They can be bad, some really turbulent stuff at the best of times. Australia is notorious for crappy broken thermals which isn’t for the faint hearted. You must be on your game.
a). Be alert, if it gets too rough and your not enjoying it - then you may always opt out and go land. I say always well that’s a fine line, dependant on the conditions and where your at at any given moment.
b). Take off is your choice and mostly so should landing be. I enchourage you not to use the word "bombout" compeditive mucho talking you down. Remember why you started flying, to enjoy it right? Sometimes conditions aren’t always enjoyable so your choice is to live land safely so you can fly another day.
c). Fly early or later in the day when then air can be beautiful calm or go fly coastal sites in nice light smooth air.
d). With many more hours and increasing your experience you will get use to it, bit by bit and be willing to ride out the more scary shit to fly longer, further or in stronger conditions. "If that is your desire".
e). Importantly it must be what you want not what other pilots may try to influence upon you. NOT what some books try to tell you. Setting little personal goal is rewarding with practice it will all come with time. Do it safely and do it in your own time and comfort level.
4. Acro - the truths and fearless pre trick mindset.
With the videos going around there maybe a slight misconception about acro. Acro is very hard in that you’ll get a trick right once or twice and then stuff it up big time.
The dynamics seen on videos is not even a quarter of what it feels like in the air. To better put it, it feels like being chucked around in a washing machine all too often when it goes wrong you must be composed enough to fix the problem.
It takes many Acro runs over a few seasons before you even come close to being sort of comfortable with the washing machine effect, reaction of glider and equiptment. So the importance of having all safety in place is not to be taken lightly because it can and continually does go wrong.
A trick done 100 times perfectly is about when you’ve mastered it, but I’d heard others say 200-300 times and it makes sense. I’d nailed flyback by 100 times perfectly executed but total comfort level came years after. One season 749 Heli’s with the 750th ending in a reserve pull.
ACRO FEAR Tips
We use the same methods as above to conquer fear.
But this doesn’t stop dry mouth, and nerves remain prevalent unless your doing it on a daily basis.
A simple method given to me by my mentor Michael Maldoon - Before you start a trick count down out aloud 3-2-1. Which focuses your thought in the now and with the number one said you have to start your trick. It works.
Leaving you with final thoughts.
Don’t bash yourself up, you do not need to be a hero. But fly to enjoy, that experience is No.1. learn to just concentrate on yourself the level where your at and do it the way you feel best. Never forget the basic schooling which had been taught to you. Uphold safety standards so you can enjoy the ride of a life time.
Happy landings for you always
Jay - Paragliding Australia