Many of us can fly but not many in a good way.
Everything started from the flight in a tandem during my trip to Nepal. After having this experience I decided to have a paragliding pilot license. In the Internet I have found the paragliding school ALTI from Międzybrodzie Żywieckie. I booked the course and I paid the advance payment. The final countdown started.
To Międzybrodzie I went by bus from Cracow. The school’s headquarter is located in the Niagara hotel where I booked a room as well. The whole complex consists of two main objects, the volleyball pitch, and small swimming pool. There is also green terrain and some place to have a barbecue. At the first building there is a reception, bar, the rooms with the higher standard, lecture hall and Alti’s headquarter.
The second building has the rooms with lower standard. There is a canteen and the room where dancing workshops were being held during my staying. The price for the night in the touristic part of the complex is 35 zloty. Trust me; the conditions are very, very touristic :). There are a lot of accommodations with very seemly and with affordable prices. Truly saying I was not going to change my accommodation as I did not see any sense of doing that and I do not regret my decision.
I did not live in the luxury but the bed and roof above my head was more than enough. I could rest and I had very short distance to get to the lectures and the place from where the flights were starting. What is more the breakfast was included to the room’s price and it was very delicious and plentiful.
The training course started 9 o clock a.m. in the lecture room at the Niagara’s Hotel. Our group consisted of 14 people. The age of the participants’ fluctuated between 22-54 years old. Everybody wanted to try paragliding.
The instructors and the participants of the course have been introduced. The whole plan of the training was also discussed. We completed the formalities. We as the participants had to sign the relinquishment of demesne: P When the ceremony finished all of us were taken to the hangar where we were divided into 2 people groups with approximate weight. There was one harness for a couple. Everybody was putting it on by themselves and the instructor was chuckling and correcting it if required. Unfortunately we could not start flying as the wind was to strong.
The time was not wasted as instead of it we had another lecture about the aviation legislations with Ms. Ania (3 hours). The atmosphere was very nice and pleasant. In the evening all of us had a barbecue- the first day of the integration has started.
The lesson of paragliding basis
Everybody truly believed that this time the weather will be good and we will have the opportunity to finally start flying. The weather was not bad but due to the standard procedures and our safety we did not go to the hillside. Except of that on the lawn in front of the hotel we started the lesson of how to stretch out and fold up the wing, how to check the ropes and the general rules of doing the harness up.
After the lunch break we went to another lecture with Ms. Ania. This time it was about the meteorology. The weather conditions have not changed since the morning. We were still grounded. We had nothing more than continuing our integration. The second day passed on having the barbecue among very nice people.
There was raining from the early morning. The morals of the team decreased. Everybody wanted to start flying. We had another lecture, this time with Tamara. She introduced secret things about the paragliding equipment. During the training she had a call. Good news – the weather conditions has improved so after the lecture we finally could go to the hillside – everybody started smilling straight away.
When the lecture was completed all of us took the equipment and went on the hill. It was not high but it was very tiring to get to the top especially that was the first time.
The first flight
We have been given the radios. All of us started preparing the equipment to be ready. First volunteers started preparation to take their first flight (the first person from the pair is helping with stretching out and untangling the ropes. If you were ready to start and sure that everything was done correctly you had to inform your readiness to start. The instructor was checking how the harness was bottomed up; hoe the wing was pinned on, if the ropes are not tangled up and if the radio worked properly. If everything was fine he informed the coordinator (that was sitting at the airport) our readiness.
My first attempt was pratfall. During the second try I took off and landed successfully. The third time – the second fall. At this day I yet had two successful flights. The beginning was harsh. I imagined it in a different way and later was only worse :). I am sorry slip of the tongue – only better :).
All form the group had at least one completed flight. Some of us done it faster the second ones were struggling a bit. Tired but with good attitude we went to take the equipment. Again the capstone of the day was the barbecue in a nice atmosphere.
Awaiting for good weather
It was raining since early morning and we were waiting for the weather improvement and call from Tamara. About 2 p.m. we received good news. We were allowed to go to the hill. Not everybody successfully took off that day. After a few unsuccessful tries (I mean falls and collapses) one person resigned.
The flights that day were completed but there was still a lecture related to the first aid. It was conducted with the experienced GOPR’s lifeguard (GOPR –Mountain Volunteer Rescue Service). He explained basic rules of giving the first aid the situations that may happen during the paragliding flights. Especially when it comes to landing 🙂 for example unexpected landing on the tree, power lines or parked car.
When the lecture was finished guess what? We had another barbecue :). The next day was going to be very important as we had to pass the theoretical exam.
The paragliding theoretical exam
Since early morning all of us were studying the material associated with the aviation legislation and meteorology. I felt stress but the exam in general was not as bad as it seemed to be. All of us passed it. The weather was very nice and were not changing so after the lunch break we went to the hill.
If you want to complete the first stage of the paragliding course you should first pass the theoretical exam and have 20 successful flights (all taking off and landings should be completed properly). If you were not able to do this during the course was taking place you can stay for the weekend and complete it straight away. You can also book the time and came later (it does not cost you more money and it is included to the course’s price).
I was planning to go out on Friday but I had only 16 successful flights so I have not completed the first stage of the course. What is more I did not have a possibility to complete it at this year. I decided to stay and complete it straight away.
The evening was a part of integration, unfortunately in a smaller group as some of the participants despite the fact that they have not completed the course had to go back.
The end of the course
Some of people had the equipment only for themselves. We did 21 flights. The last one I rather spent on running than flying (the weather changed rapidly). I had some problems with the wing but I manged it.
I need to say that the best person on the day was Ewa. She was a young mom with filigree posture has done 7 flights and completed the first stage.
We have been given our certificates. Only a few people left. All of us were tired after few days of struggle. The last evening lasted in a friendly atmosphere with just few of us.
How to be prepared to such course?
Few advices from my side: take old clothes with you, long sleeve is also useful, especially when the wings’ bands are rubbing your skin, it also protect during falls. Good shoes – the gym shoes are not recommended. You can have your own helmet, sunglasses are also useful. All necessary information is described on ALTI’s website – it is worth to apply of the advices given there.
I will share with you two more sentences that I heard during the course:
„There are two groups of paragliders: the ones that already have found their first tree and the ones that yet still find it”.
„Knowing that you will be landing on the tree try pointing at the trunk and catch it like a bear would do”
The museum of brewery
Before I went back to Cracow together with Magda, Piotrek and Przemek we went to Żywiec to visit the museum of brewery. The trip was interesting and nice. Unfortunately during the weekends there is no possibility of seeing the beer making process. The end of our visit was completed with the paint of beer. How it could end while visiting the brewery? In my opinion this place is definitely worth to be seen and to be recommended.
All good things come to an end. I had to start another journey. Luckily for me my holidays have not finished yet. Now was the time to visit my family home – the beautiful Suwalszcyzna.