Home Forums Safety Andy Jackson Helmet Stickers Reply To: Andy Jackson Helmet Stickers

Bo Frazier
Limited Member

Thank you for that information Jana.  I see now why I couldn’t find it.

In another thread on this site, I suggested that restrictions on P2 pilots should be relaxed.  My suggestion has not been met with much support but I remain convinced that the current requirements are too strict.  USHPA has long established requirements for obtaining a P2 rating and any pilot who shows up at AJX with a P2 rating must be presumed to have satisfied all of the requirements for obtaining that rating from a USHPA certified instructor.  They have logged at least 35 flights in which they demonstrated an appropriate landing approach.  They have demonstrated five landings within 25 feet of a target.  There are, of course, many other requirements that have been satisfied by the pilot to obtain the rating.  I fully understand that these are fairly minimal requirements.  But many P2 pilots have done far more than satisfy these minimal requirements.  Many P2 pilots have flown quite a bit and have gained substantial skills including solid thermalling skills.  So we shouldn’t set the standards for flying at AJX based on the lowest possible skill levels of a P2 pilot.  This brings my arguments for changing the rules directly into the concerns raised in this thread.  When a P2 shows up at AJX, the pilot absolutely needs to have a discussion with an appropriate person regarding the pilot’s ability to safely fly at AJX.  But under the current rules, that person must be a local instructor and that often is not practical and it is expensive, sometimes prohibitively so.  I have read multiple comments here that instructors possess superior skills to assess newer pilots’ skill levels and abilities to safely fly the site.  I strongly disagree with that position.  Instructors certainly are highly qualified for that role.  But there are many pilots who are not instructors who have hundreds, or even thousands, of hours flying our sites.  In 2019, I logged 150 hours of airtime on my paragliders at Marshall, Crestline and Regionals, flying mid-day and evening flights.  I spent about 20 hours on my hang gliders.  I have been flying those sites for more than 20 years.  In the past I have been certified to teach hang gliding and paragliding and served as an Observer under USHPA rules.  I no longer am an instructor.  So I am not sure why I would not be sufficiently qualified to determine whether a P2 pilot can safely fly our sites without supervision.  There are many other local pilots who have the same or more experience as I have.  So I simply don’t see why the club will not allow such pilots to serve as “mentors” or whatever you want to call them to assist P2 pilots in being able to fly.  Instructors are often too busy to be available.  I know of one instructor who will not do sign offs for non students so that shrinks the number of available instructors even more.  It is just my strong opinion that qualified non instructors should be able to work with P2 pilots and sign them off.  The club needs to consider this and address how to determine which pilots are qualified for this role.

I also strongly disagree that there should be a requirement of 5 flights from our sites before a P2 can be signed off to fly without supervision.  This goes back to my earlier statements regarding the greatly varied experience level of P2 pilots.  If a P2 has extensive mountain flying experience and thermal flying, and demonstrates that skill in one or two flights from Marshall, it is simply ridiculous to require the pilot to have 5 supervised flights.  Of course, a brand new P2 without mountain experience may need many more supervised flights.  Each case must be decided by the supervising instructor or mentor.  One size never fits all.

I agree with everyone who has mentioned how “spicy” our sites can be in summer conditions.  I have many mid day summer hours on hang gliders and paragliders on our sites and have experienced the good, bad and ugly of those conditions.  So most P2s should be very limited to flying anything other than early and late.  But as strong as our mid day conditions are, our sites offer nearly perfect opportunities for new pilots who fly early and late.  The risks during such hours are about as minimal as you can get for our sport.  I have flown around the US and around the world and I often tell AJX pilots who fly mainly locally that they just can’t appreciate how wonderful the sites at AJX are.  Each launch is excellent, not filled with rocks, cactus, cliffs, etc., etc.  The LZ is covered in grass and slopes uphill and has an overshoot LZ below it.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  At the end of each day, you can almost be your last dollar on having smooth winds in the LZ from the south, southwest, or west.  There are some obstacles not far from the LZ but in smooth early and late air, they pose minimal risks to a qualified P2 pilot.  There are few, if any, other sites in the US with such conditions on such a consistent basis.    So I think that P2 pilots who have worked hard and earned that rating should be allowed to fly unsupervised during early morning and late day hours.  Alternatively, maybe they should be allowed to do so with only one supervised flights.  But requiring 5 supervised flights before allowing them to gain experience in launching, flying and landing is not necessary.

David, you said that the instructors will get together and decide what should be required for supervision of P2s before sign off.  I disagree that our rules should be set by instructors alone.  This is a membership organization and all members who so desire should be involved in any such decisions.  Rules are easier to accept when they are voted on by members.

So those are some of my thoughts.  None of this really has much of an impact on my life.  I live in Albuquerque but own a cabin in Crestline so I come out about one week every 4 to 6 weeks to get some serious airtime.  I can fly our sites anytime I want since I have been actively flying since 1980 and have advanced ratings in PG and HG.  I have no financial interest in any of this. But I have never forgotten the excitement of getting started in flying hang gliders first and paragliders later while also remembering the frustrations associated with advancing my skills.  AJX offers nearly perfect facilities for helping new pilots advance safely and without so much frustration.  Non local pilots should be encouraged to come and utilize our sites for that purpose.  I am confident that all of this can be done without any lack of safety or risk to our pilots or sites.  I also am absolutely willing to help P2 pilots or any other pilots who need some assistance or mentoring.  My only goal has always been for every flight for every pilot to result in a fun, safe flight.  But sometimes rules that are too restrictive can actually lead to other outcomes.  Let’s not let that happen.