In one single week during late July ’08 at Precision we had a total of 5 days of flight training (six days flying) in the east of Scotland. As is becoming more and more common the new PPC students entering the sport were from all across the UK, with this week folk arriving from Wolverhampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen areas to train.
Monday started with Paul coming up from England for a three day starter short course, opting to train at Precision rather than train with any of the (9) BHPA schools local to his home area!
Paul spent a lot of time looking at the paragliding standards on sites like YouTube, his main reason for choosing Precision came down to the fact that most (95%) of what I teach directly contradicts what is taught by the BHPA, and so results in a significant difference in standards.
Monday (‘Day One’): Paul arrived in Scotland very early and we met up in
Fife at sunrise (4:30 am!), with him having fairly high expectations for the three days training, I think it’s safe to say he left on Wednesday afternoon with those expectations more than exceeded!
Paul: “I didn’t take the decision to train with
Murray lightly. I knew it would involve a round trip of at least 700 miles, so had to be sure the effort and cost would be worthwhile. At the age of 51 and a total novice, I wanted to make sure I would receive the best training in safe flying. I was aware that paragliding can be dangerous, that accidents do happen, but I had no wish to become ‘another statistic’. Having spent several hours on the phone to him, (during which time we covered a lot of theory) I was confident I was doing the right thing. I’d already been awake a lot of hours, had done a day’s work and driven 430 miles by the time I met up with Murray, so it’s testament to his teaching skills that he managed to keep my mind and body focused on the tasks in hand. We had clocked up around 24 flights before I finally succumbed to exhaustion on a sunny Scottish hillside that afternoon.”
Murray: Two late morning phone calls to the hill top from more new students (two from Aberdeen & one from Glasgow area) worked in nicely as it would give Paul time to ‘cat nap’ later on in the afternoon, as training (as normal) was planned to continue till near sunset, subject of course to student ‘energy levels’!
In the middle of the day we delayed an intended bottom landing flight (for lunch) so we could also meet Sam (Glasgow) by the main road, continuing with short flights and then flying all the way to the farm once Sam had called from the big roundabout several miles south of the hill, giving us time to bottom land/fold the glider & walk to the main road.
Sam decided to travel to Tayside/Fife for his training despite two BHPA schools in his area, and only needed to wait a couple of weeks for the right conditions/day off work to get started. One advantage with Precision is, subject to my work commitments in commercial photography/property management, training takes place both mid-week & weekend, it is easy to quickly build the 15-25 hours airtime in a few months to reach the Precision PG Basic Pilot standard.
Having fed, watered & met up with Sam, Paul, Sam and myself were soon back at the hill top ready for more Dual Control flights, first flight of the afternoon session with Paul on the Dual controls, and following that demonstration Sam’s first flights observing & assisting the ‘Wing Warp’ primary control prior to flying with the Dual Controls connected on his next flights.
Once the other two new students (from Aberdeen) had arrived at the main SW launch point Paul took the opportunity to have a snooze while the other three took their turn flying using the Dual controls, often including the launch & landing.
Paul: “It was only the ONE snooze!”
During the mid –afternoon the only change from SOP (standard operating procedure) was that the mandatory calls of “LAUNCHING” were more a case of ‘shouting pianissimo’ i.e. “launching” (quietly!) so as not to disturb Paul
Paul: “They are a very considerate lot!”
After any walk ups (some flights were ‘top landing’) the last pilot filmed video for later review/YouTube of the next student, then just rested/watched the flying before it was their turn again. With everyone rapidly building airtime, including on the controls for launch & landing, the afternoon quickly passed, the only down point was Sam getting an emergency call to head back to the west coast after only having time for a few flights.
Based on the MET aviation reports I had predicted that Fife would ‘blow out’ some time between late afternoon & tea time so it was simply a matter of keeping a close eye on the conditions ‘Mark One Eyeball’, helped by MET updates via the mobile internet until, as forecast the conditions started to become too windy for good ‘Day One’ student tandem training.
Calling an end to that part of the days flight training and leaving the ‘part day’ students to walk down the hill, Paul, after his short snooze.. got in one more big Dual Control flight to land leaving just a short walk to the car, then drive to Dundee for food & several cups of tea, a review of the flying (and MET updates) before Paul & the Aberdeen students headed to the last site of the day, everyone getting in several more short tandem flights in non-thermic (wind only) conditions, this in the early stages of training makes for better ground control ‘Taxi’ instruction.
Tuesday: As it had look likely on the longer term synoptic, it was too windy in Tayside/Fife so the morning was spent on review and more MET, Aerodynamics and other ground school work until Alan Coffin, an ex-BHPA pilot who re-trained with me a couple of years ago (and now has several 100 hours flight time) phoned to ask me to open one of our Class D airspace sites up in Aberdeen. He reported that the conditions there had become good, he often takes a ‘long lunch’ from work to fly our site under a mile from his office!… A quick call to ATC and an equipment check/load the car saw Paul on his way to fly his third site in
Scotland, stopping off to buy sunscreen!
Paul: “Yes – really! I seriously did not think I would need to pack that!”
We arrived in perfect timing to get in first more tandem training flights, before with the mellowing conditions saw Alan heading off and so, in the now lighter (and dropping) breeze Paul got his first solo hop’s.Wednesday: Being Paul’s last (part) day in Scotland and needing to leave early to drive back to England, the choice was
Fife again, in part to save him some driving time, and so gain more time for flying. The wind forecast was for SSW to SW and as the intention was for more solo airtime, it was another SW site where we have private vehicle access direct to the top of the open grassy slope, giving first easy Dual Control tandem training and soon switching to the solo equipment (and back) as the conditions dictated the type of training during the morning/early afternoon.
In conclusion I leave Paul to sum up his start in the sport:
Paul: “How many instructors do you know who would be willing to meet up and start the day at 4.30am? And continue training until sunset? That sums up Murray Hay’s commitment to, and passion for, the sport. Paragliding, like many other
outdoor sports, is very much subject to the weather, and this is where
Murray’s knowledge of the weather and surrounding area plus access to a huge range of launch sites, is such a bonus. We were able to successfully train and fly at a variety of sites without training being adversely affected by changing conditions.
It wasn’t difficult to have confidence in, and great respect for, a guy who can demonstrate such incredible flying skills and depth of knowledge.
Murray’s teaching style is unique and effective. Rather than telling you things, he encourages you to realise that by utilising the information you already have, it’s possible to find the answer for yourself. This results in a greater degree of understanding and knowledge retention. He also exhibits enormous patience!The third day culminated in my first real solo flights, and with my confidence boosted by
Murray’s calm instructions over the radio, I executed the required tasks and made safe landings at the bottom of the hill. I enjoyed it so much I was convinced I would require surgery to remove the grin off my face!
I didn’t really expect to go ‘solo’ during this first trip to
Scotland, thinking that all flying would be on the dual control tandem, so I was delighted to have been able to take such a major step before having to leave. I will approach my next visit with much more confidence. I am utterly hooked and can’t wait for time and funds to allow the next session!”