Sensitive Chaos is the mixing of elements that takes place and causes what we refer to as “rowdy conditions” while flying. It’s also the title of a book I recommend to all of my students. Sensitive Chaos by Theodore Schwenk is a great coffee table book about the elements of wind and water current, not a book that is necessarily about flying, but a book that will lend you an understanding of the infinite and finite elements that sometimes create everything from “butter milk” flying to “rodeo air survival” soaring, and everything in between.
Kathy and I just spent a glorious thirteen days in tropical Yelapa, Mexico where the paragliding is often not much more than the frosting on the cake of a vacation of unparalleled social and geographical magic. Breeching whales and slithering boa-constrictors, basking iguanas, darting blue/green macaws, soaring frigates and turkey vultures, marvelous food, unique music and some paragliding from two different launches; Yelapa Tapa at 2,000 feet MSL and Yelapa Tapita at 630 feet MSL. This year we only took a one day break from flying. Most of our flights from Tapa and Tapita were little more than extended sledders. The weather was cooler than normal but started warming over the past few days of our stay. And, the last few days we had our best flights. Last year my best flights were from Tapa. This year we caught a couple of days of pre-frontal conditions that produced some epic Tapita flights. Tuesday, February 22nd we hiked the 20 minutes up Shit Creek to Tapita and got Kathy set up to launch in some pretty steady straight in wind of about ten to twelve mph. It was about 1:30 when Kathy took to the air. With a grand total of sixty some flights under her belt of about half are solo, Kathy was on her way up right off of launch. “Relax and get comfortable.” Was my radioed suggestion. Still going up, she didn’t look all that relaxed. “Relax Babe.” I suggested. “Cross your ankles. Let the weight of your arms hang. Let your wing fly. Don’t fight it.” Yeah, right. The next thing I see is a 75% right side frontal. “Hands up!” Still I’m attempting calm. Yeah, I’m knotting up inside as I clip in to launch. “Relax Babe, it’s looking good out there. Enjoy your flight and let your wing fly.”
Yelaps Tapa launch is just to the right of the light colored paraglider. Photo by John Kraske February 2010.
Apparently during one of the many pilot induced collapses, Kathy had inadvertently bumped the volume on her radio down and wasn’t hearing my broadcasts to stay out in front of the launch and out of the mouth of the river valley. “Kathy, please stay out in front and to the left of launch. Stay out of the venturi, that valley can suck you right upstream where you don’t want to go today.” She apparently wasn’t listening. I flew to her and shouted for her to get back over launch which she did. She was relaxing more and wasn’t experiencing any more collapses. We were testing her bump tolerance, and she was definitely dissuading other pilots from flying. Although conditions were settling somewhat and Kathy seemed to be enjoying her flight and seemed to have relaxed some still only two visiting pilots joined us in the air. Peter and Mike, both from
Kathy and I will be hosting a Yelapa Tour in 2012. We’ll plan it to include the Valentine’s Day Costume Party – the biggest celebration of the year in Yelapa – and will encourage our guests to costume up. It’s fun. We are currently negotiating some group rates at some fine beach view units with all the whistles, bells and alarms, even a clothes washing machine. Full WiFi is currently being installed. I’ve been visiting Yelapa since 1996, pre-electricity era. With the assistance of our local friends we have targeted all the best deals available; taxi service and how much to pay, all the fine eateries in Yelapa, kayak rentals, horseback riding, our friend Pamela is an exceptionally talented Salsa dance instructor, there are yoga classes, cooking classes, Spanish classes and, of course, paragliding, hiking, waterfalls, fishing, scuba, snorkeling. I’ll contact Brad Gunnuscio who has been conducting maneuvers clinics in Yelapa for anyone wanting to include some time with him. Les also offers tow ups when they’re not engaged in clinics. So, mark out a couple of weeks next February and we’ll get all the costs down and hopefully you can join us in Magical Yelapa,
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