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latest Para-Newbie News-n-Pics, Mar07, Issue #0003, monthly e-zine.
March 28, 2007

Fresh Paragliding Stuff

Selected News, Image, Site Update

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Issued on Mar 28th 2007, Issue #0003

Table of Contents

1. News of the Month

2. Image of the Month

3. Website Content of the Month

News of the Month

Having scoured the Web using a number of world news resources, I have gone with a Kiwi theme for this month. Kiwi? That's Australian slang for 'New Zealand' or 'New Zealander'. Firstly, there's the very good result achieved by New Zealand's top female pilot in the Paragliding World Championships held at Manilla, Australia.

That sounds familiar you say, didn't last month's newsletter have something about the World competition... Yes, the big competitions are a good source of paragliding news, no doubt about it!

The second story concerns paraglider aerobatics, or acro as it is sometimes called. Some details here on a new competition being started in New Zealand.

World's Top Female Pilots Compete

Source: New Zealand News

Date: 12 Mar 2007

Can you blame the Kiwis for getting a bit excited, their top female pilot, Harmony Gaw, came third at Manilla this month, in a field of 32 women. There were 150 pilots including the guys. An ex-kiwi representing Australia, Vivian Williams came second in the female rankings. In third place was Petra Slivova from the Czech Republic.

Talking about Czechs, they have always made good gliders of all kinds, for decades. I went solo in one, the Blanik L13 sailplane, when I was 15. But I'm straying from the topic now...

The rest of the New Zealand team achieved very respectable results, too. Overall, the team placed 14th out of the 39 competing nations. The best individual effort of the comp was by Bruce Goldsmith of Great Britain, who won the open event. The team from the Czech Republic obtained the top team result. The weather wasn't supposed to be wet, in earlier weeks New South Wales was in the grip of a drought when pilots were preparing for the competition. But down came the rain, and the official flying days were either difficult for cross-country flying or cancelled altogether. Thermals don't form so easily over wet ground.

Pilots had to put up with slow climbs that fizzled out at much lower altitudes than usual, compared to the usual conditions around Manilla at this time of year. Harmony Gore herself commented about the flying requiring 'loads of patience and determination'. Harmony ended up 52nd overall.

Predictably, everyone wants to know how Ewa Wisnierska went. If you remember, she's the German pilot who was sucked up to 10,000 meters (over 30,000 feet) and nearly died, while on a practice flight before the competition. Ewa came 96th overall. Brave effort really.

I sat through Cyclone Tracy in Christmas 1974, and for about 12 months afterwards had these little panicky twinges every time there was a bit of wind and rain. Getting sucked up to extreme altitude surrounded by thunder and lightning must have been worse. Like the cyclone (hurricane), there wouldn't be much to see either, in the blackness.

World's Top Aerobatic Pilots Compete

Source: The Marlborough Express

Date: 20 Mar 2007

And now to a paragliding competition on a somewhat smaller scale, but still involving extremely skilled pilots. It's the Saltwater Acro Classic. A newly organized competition, it was flown over 2 days using 2 coastal sites near Picton, New Zealand. The comp still managed to attract around 20 top-notch paraglider pilots from Switzerland, the United States and New Zealand. What? No Aussies? Surely there were 1 or 2, we are just across the water from New Zealand!

One site is part of the Karaka Point Reserve which is to the north of Waikawa Bay and about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Picton. The other site is Mount Freeth which overlooks Shakespeare Bay, right next to Picton Harbor itself. Both these sites are near the north-eastern tip of the South Island of New Zealand.

Doing flips, loops and tumbles in paragliders has been done for a while now. However, it's now becoming increasingly popular every year. As the paragliding accident statistics indicate, but that's another story. Most of the guys at this comp are professional flying instructors and have known each other since 2000.

After the scheduled weekend was cancelled due to strong winds, the competition was eventually flown in 2 days of perfect weather. Each flying sequence took about a minute, and the pilots were scored on difficulty level and style.

The name of a local Picton club, Excess Altitude, made me smile. As an ex-sailplane instructor, I know what you do with excess altitude if you have nothing else to do - aerobatics!

Image of the Month

There's plenty of paragliding imagery on the Web these days, much of it so-so. Thanks to some paraglider manufacturer friends of mine, I can bring you some great pics that you might not find anywhere else. Hope you enjoy this month's featured picture, below. Just click on it to enlarge.

Ok, so it's a paramotoring pic this time, hope I haven't offended any dyed-in-the-wool free flyers out there. The interesting background to this shot is that it was taken during the filming of 'Highmania'. Never heard of it? Well, it might be out on DVD by the time you read this. In any case, it's supposed to make an appearance fairly soon, if all goes well.

A little more about the picture. It's not a still from the paramotoring movie, but was taken with a Canon 350D camera while flying at 1000 meters (3000 feet) over South Yorkshire in the UK. If you look closely through the snowfield-like cloud cover you can see what seem to be flooded rectangular paddocks.

The paraglider is an Apco wing paired with an AXB Hawk paramotor.

Website Content of the Month

Pages are always being added to the site, and I've selected a recent one to focus on here. It's been a while since I've written up an interesting flying location, so I decided to find out about paragliding in Barcelona.

This particular area of Spain enjoys a Mediterranean climate, of course. :-) With great coastline, mild weather and the famous Pyrenees mountain range north of the city, you'll find people doing all kinds of extreme sports in the region. Not just paragliding.

The locals say the best months to go paragliding in Barcelona are spring and autumn. Local pilots speak highly of flying at Berga in particular, which is situated in the foothills of the mountains.

Bearing in mind that this paragliding newsletter and in fact most of the website is really for 'newbies', any constructive feedback is welcome! Just reply to this newsletter and tell me your thoughts.

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