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Competitors :  Good for them !
by Jérôme Daoust. 2003/11/4.

To become a good competition pilot, one has to invest a lot (time, money, vacation days) to raise his skill to become a world-level pilot.  It makes sense that practicing in the conditions that you want to get better at, is the best training. This is a much bigger commitment than just flying on weekends.  But what results from a "fly-as-many-national-comps-as-you-can" exercise ?

  1. The pilots who invested a lot effort will feel good about themselves as they notice improvement in their competition skills. Like a personal quest to see how far you can go.  For some, this is the first time they invest themselves to such an extent.  Let's say it :  Acquiring competition skills is often an ego trip.
  2. Some champions manage to turn paragliding into a career, and they will remain grateful towards the sport, which returned their investment.
  3. The world-class pilots will raise the overall skill level of the national team. The rest of the pilots can take pride in that.
  4. Regular pilots who fly next to a certified sky-god will enjoy the reference point.

But my viewpoint is : "Good for them !".


If you want to learn from the top competitors, you have to follow them in competitions yourself.  Some of those top guys will have a website with reports describing their super flights or competition tasks. But it is most often written in a "this is what I did" manner, with minimal emphasis on the previously acquired skills to achieve it. And that usually happens most during their early days as later on, they don't have much time to diffuse their knowledge, being too busy flying.


But what I rarely see is those world-class pilots go the extra distance to share with the world, what makes them good. For this reason, my role models are people like :

·        Will Gadd, for the knowledge exposed under his website.

·        Adrian Thomas, for his high level of participation on Internet discussion groups.

·        Bruce Goldsmith, as being a regular on XC magazine.

Those guys have the extra ability to talk to the rest of the world (weekend pilots) in a language they can understand and pass on their hard-earned knowledge. Respect !


It is nice to see guys setting records or wining world-level competitions, but I'm more interested in what they know which made it possible.  Sure, reading about an expert's knowledge isn't as good as flying alongside, but having the information available to all pilots of the world to think about, has a far bigger impact overall.


And it is such a waste when a good pilot drops out of the flying community and his knowledge disappears with him. I just learned of another one this weekend.