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SIV in Norway

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 (didn’t 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 and Rob.

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..... ......who’s 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 !.

Julian’s 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 Lesson learnt.

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 learnt.

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 Bl***y Expensive.

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.

Kay Myerscough

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