Flying over Lima, Peru

Another amazing flight yesterday. My first flight over a dense city. The launch is quite scary as it’s a small 20sq meters launch over a huge cliff surrounded by buildings. Launching is easy though. Once you have enough experience to kite your wing in strong wind you know you’re going to fly.

Landing is much more tricky as you have to approach lower than the landing area straight into the cliff. Then you expect you’re going to climb as the wind hits the cliff and can only go up. That’s the principle of ridge soaring. Problem is to chose the right altitude when you can’t predict how much you’re going to go up.

My landing ended up being very challenging as the wind went significantly down as I approached. I started sinking and had to decide really fast between aborting my approach and land on the beach or continue. Landing on the crowded narrow beach right by a busy highway surrounded by lights and electric cables wasn’t very appealing so I decided to continue. I got the last minute altitude gain and fortunately it was enough for me to land right at the landing spot height. It could have gone wrong but I was reasonably confident it would not. I was weight shifting opposite to the cliff side so that I could turn really fast away from the cliff.

Everything went fine. The wind went down even more and should I have not taken that decision it would have been a beach landing. Avoiding the Ocean would have been key with the big pacific waves that can drag your glider and sink you. I’m used to that in San Francisco and did many narrow beach landings so that wasn’t scary for me.

The paragliders were mostly tandem pilots making money taking tourists around for a flight. They don’t like visiting pilots much. If there is a problem their site and therefore business could disappear as the city could shut it down.

There is no way such a launch surrounded by people and over a busy city would be authorized in the U.S.

I paid a tandem flight to an instructor telling him to supervise me flying solo on radio instead of flying tandem and he accepted. It was great to know someone was watching me on radio. The instructor also warned me the wind was starting to go down and invited me to fly back home after about an hour flight. That was great.

My flight was amazing. You can see the tall green Marriott building behind me. I flew right next to the hotel. Ridge soaring a hotel building was special! I could say hi to people in their rooms as I was climbing thanks to the uplift wind on the building.

Absolutely amazing experience I am still dreaming about it. I am really glad I brought my glider to Peru. Flying with no engine is simply incredible.

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