This is number 19 on my 30 things to do. We’ve booked this a couple of times but it got cancelled for bad weather, but third time was lucky and we had a beautiful day over the South Downs near Brighton.
First we had a talk explaining the principles of how paragliding works and we are reassured that it is very rare to drop out of the sky, and the worst that could happen is that we will get dragged along a bit on landing, which happens about once a month. Then we made our way to the top of a suitable hill with a good north-facing slope for ridge-lift (technical jargon). I volunteered to go first and was strapped into my harness and off we went, narrowly missing the barbed wire fence.
We had to watch out for swallows, who would be a good sign of thermals, but because it was quite early in the morning it wasn’t warm enough for really strong ones, so we had to rely on the wind coming up over the side of the hill to keep us airborne.
After about half an hour we came back for landing, and what do you know, I was the one person per month to get dragged along the South Downs ON MY FACE! After ten years of being kicked in the face in tae kwon do, I didn’t want to get a broken nose on my first time paragliding, but I was just bruised and there were five people still to go up and some of them were a bit nervous so I put a brave face on it.
Colin was up next and it had warmed up a little bit so he got some good thermals and went up a lot higher.