I have been flying helicopters, hanggliders, airplanes since 1984. While I am by no means perfect, broken arm caused by bad landing in 2016 as a great example, I am still in one piece and still employed as a professional pilot.
I learned to fly hanggliders in 1985, shortly after I learned to fly helicopters. I am an H4. I am still “timid” on the hangglider. I have made the decision to be so when I consider my experience/proficiency on the glider relative to my concern for my ability to earn a living as pilot as well as to my long term outlook in general.
What I have noticed over the years with hanggliders, and even more so in recent years with the explosion of paragliding, is how pilots make really bad decisions. I was setting up at Crestline last month and watched when the P1/2? suffered the collapse and ended up spraining his ankle hitting the tree next to the radio tower. If the tree had been two feet more west the pilot may have been killed by impacting the tree higher up on his body.
I have read the rules on the CSS website that detail the restrictions for beginning pilots and how to improve to get restrictions removed. This paraglider pilot’s instructor didn’t drive home the risks of ignoring the restrictions.
The pilot the following week who ended up in the trees behind Marshal the same. Lift does die down. Maybe never before in one’s time at Marshal, but that day it did. Again, no concern for the what if that happened. That pilot’s instructor didn’t make the pilot understand that great conditions for months on end does not mean that tomorrow will have great conditions. Mitch’s remark about San Bernardino County and the helicopter rescues as well as Steve’s comments above are on point.
My helicopter instructor beat it into me to never, never, never, allow the rotor RPM to decay, and thankfully in my helicopter career I never got low RPM. The flying at Crestline is so good so often, the instructors should put significant effort into convincing new pilots that there is no guarantee that any particular day will be good and to exercise the proper caution in case the day isn’t so good.