Revival of a Tree Landing
(To comfort those who recently had similar experiences. From SAHPA News, March/April 1994)
The Trees They Grow High
(Stuff for a Ballade, this one not from Joan Baez, but from Ulf)
April 3, another of those lousy Easter Weekend no-wind days at the Dam. After watching the others struggling, scraping, scratching off the South side like on the previous days, opted to take a safe ride down with the cable way.
But it is Easter Sunday. The queue is piling all the way out of the top station. If one wants to go down fast, one has to fly.
Back to the now deserted take off. The windsock at the bottom points upwards. Maybe there is hope. Layout, get ready, and there is a slight breeze coming up the ramp. Forward takeoff, no problem (wow!), slight lift, the sun is starting to warm up the rock
s in the gap, and it works and I manage to stay up. (Feeling gooood). Gordon also takes off. But somehow he does not manage to catch the lift and turns towards landing.
Somebody has turned off the lift, I find out quickly, and I have to follow Gordon towards the South landing area. Strong, smooth sink all the way.
Gordon lands easterly. Running like hell, and the glider still overtakes him. I decide to land westerly and pick my spot. But somehow things start going wrong. Flying west. Shooting past my goal. S-turn back, heading for the Club house. (They got a big si
gn there, saying they don't want you to land on the furniture). Turn back, and have never seen trees so high and close while in the air.
I have a choice of 3 trees.
No. 1 is a thorn tree, as I know from previous experience some years ago. No. 2 looks like dead wood, No. 3 is green.
2 or 3, but cannot make up mind and choose to aim between them. Crash landing inevitable, out goes my distress signal for tree landing:
S**T! OH S**T!"
Elbows up in front of face, feet up, close eyes.
And there I go (like a bullet, according to Gordon). Crashing through the trees.
I smell boereworst. I open my eyes, and see a braai. No, I am not on top of a grill. Just hanging next to it. Unable to touch the ground, just.
A family is still taking cover from falling tree debris. Seems I am OK, just shaken. Family dad rescues the last meat pieces. While trying to get out of the harness, I apologise profusely for interrupting their lunch. I am lucky, they were nearly finished
. With me very nearly being the cherry on the top.
Glider neatly draped over top of dead tree, 6 - 8 meters up.
The TEC (Tree Emergency Collision) Team is on the spot within minutes.
For those who don't know the TEC Team, it is Gordon Prahm, Graham von Maltitz and Dieter Benischke. Those guys really know how to get a paraglider out of a tree without damaging it (the paraglider, that is.) The tree is now firewood.
A spectator suggested to cut the lines, which was ignored by the TEC. Thanx a lot.
Well, there are some bruises, but I had a good full face helmet and one of my usual overalls. The Secura harness seems to have taken most of the impact, showing a few scratches. The one year old Profile passed the thumb test (done by branches) with flying
How to avoid another tree landing? My first reaction: I don't know. But Laura says to keep an eye constantly on my landing area. Not go too far away and lose too much height in the process. And butterfly and tucked wing landings are on the flying schedule
again. For overshooting. (Or it's back to Germany for good.)