I have never been too keen on doing an SIV course, but my enthusiasm to
go to Norway and take part in the Norwegian Extreme Sports week won over.
So in June we sailed from Newcastle to Bergen, then continued up to Voss
approx. 2hours drive away.
Our SIV course was to be run by Alex Loew (Apco chief test pilot) and
Rob Cruickshank who I am sure you will all of heard of.
Along with other paraglider pilots (didnt spot any HGs) we were
sharing Voss with Sky Divers, Base Jumpers, White Water Canoeists and
Down Hill Mountain Bikers. PLUS the Red Bull Display team The Rodregez
brothers, Robby Whittall etc.
After sorting out digs etc. We made or way to the first meeting with Alex
Turned out there were about 30 of us on the course... 27 Norwegians, Paul,
myself and Julian French from N Yorks (a pilot and a gentleman)
So, enter Alex, stocky, sunburnt, arrogant chauvinist-, I knew we would
get on, I liked him.........honestly.
First shock. (Plenty to follow) the SIV was to be done without the use
of radios..Bloody hell..... ......whos going to tell me WHAT to
pull, WHEN to pull it , and how HARD?
His philosophy on teaching SIV (which he has done for quite sometime)
is to talk to you, explain the maneuvers required, talk you through what
will occur when its going correctly, and when not going according to plan.
Then of course talking you through recovery procedures.
To the hill. We discovered that all the Norwegian pilots need to do this
course in order to obtain their pilot ratings. A very good idea I think.
We worked under our own steam through. Asymmetric and Full frontal defilations.
Spin entry, spins at stall speed and spins at trim speed (ahhhhhh), B
line stalls, Full on Spiral Dives Left & Right, Auto rotations and
of course Full Stalls. All of which we entered into, and got out of without
any outside instruction.
For all of our maneuvers we HAD to perform over water, if anyone started
to perform over land a severe bollocking was to greet them
on landing. All SIV pilots were given a 2ft tall fablon alphabetical sticker
to attach to the underside leading edge of their wing so they could be
identified by Alex or Rob from the ground. All pilots were marked out
of 10 for each maneuver , the Norwegian pilots needed to obtain a 7 average
for maneuver and recovery to pass their Pilot qualification.
Well....Paul, Julian and I completed and passed all our tasks but not
without incident. In fact Julian and Paul were very well placed to win
the overall Extreme Week !.
Julians first beautifully choreographed water entry was fantastic
to watch....With eyes and gobs wide open we watched as he intentionally
entered his Auto rotation. Firstly, pull in one side of your wing then
lean into the turn. Believe me things then start to happen very fast.
How-ever what you are supposed to do after a couple of rotations is release
the collapse (pump out if necessary) lean away from the collapse correct
and control the turn...back to level flight. But oh no, not the way Julian
did it. Collapse..Lean in..Spin......then spin... then spin some more.
Then spin right round so facing backwards whist the wing is spinning and
trying to fly forwards. The wing does not seem to like this maneuver and
was bucking and tucking like a thing possessed. All this time of course
Julian had a really fantastic descent rate, so much so he was so engrossed
in trying to recover he had no idea how close he was to the water...SPLOOSH..A
I think the pictures tell the story..So to Pauls little display. After
we had both completed our Full Stalls Paul decided he would like to throw
his reserve. By now he was pretty confident. Since learning to fly Paul
has always made a dummy grab for his reserve handle whilst in the air,
Just so he would know the position in times of need !. So, Alex true to
form said fine throw your reserve However, this is the Extreme Week so
there is no way you will be a puffter on my course throwing your reserve
in level flight. He wanted to see some action. This he got...This we ALL
got. Paul went back up the cable car to the top of the mountain whilst
we sat with a coffee and a bun (only £19.99 cheap by Norwegian standards).
Looking up expectantly to the skies. It was not long before we saw his
Pink Sabre flying gracefully and serene out over the lake.
Let the Action Begin..and it did. A couple of tight spirals ..out ..Big
wing over, Full Asymmetric collapse , and into the Autorotation. Looking
pretty contorted he spiraled violently down, and down and down and down
and down and down...I was getting a little panicy on his behalf, although
he has informed me since he was feeling plenty uncool for
him self. He could not find that bloody reserve handle. It had obviously
moved from that oh so 100 % reachable position on his right buttock. Very
reminiscent of Julian he plummeted towards the welcoming black icy water
of the Norwegian Lake.
How-ever in a last ditch effort to try and retain some credibility at
about 30ft above the water he managed to recover the glider, wanged the
brakes on converting the huge speed he had into height and went on a death
glide skimming the water with his toes and landed slap bang in the middle
of the floating pontoon that had just been positioned for the Rodregez
Brothers and the Red Bull Team for their acrobatic Display.
Huge applause from the now quite large viewing public , and a huge sigh
of relief from the platform!
So, quite an eventful holiday. In Summary a lot of very worth while lessons
If you can, with a reputable instructor Do an SIV course. I do not think
you will regret it.
On your harness, if you cannot see your reserve handle whilst in level
flight..Change your kit so that you can, Your life may depend on it.
Norway....Fantastic Country, Amazing Scenery, Lovely People unfortunately
So if your lottery numbers come up between now and June 2003 book a place
on Extreme Week 2003 I guarantee you will not be disappointed.