Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Most paragliders are careful pilots

    Recent events have once again cast a dark light on the sport of paragliding—another accident, another rescue. This seems all too common as of late in our small valley. Is this sport so dangerous that we should expect this?
    As any sport has its inherent dangers, flying is no exception. But the fact of the matter is that safety comes with education, skill and respect. There are hundreds of flights from Baldy and from other sites around the valley each year, without incident. Most of those taking to the air are rated pilots, pilots with formal training and the ability to negotiate conditions around them. Like kayaking, mountaineering, skiing and countless other activities, overzealous participants can easily get in over their heads. This leads to injuries and dangerous rescues.
    I commend Bart Lassman for stating that these recent incidents are based around a small group of pilots in the area. The last three major accidents were all pilots with little to no formal training or certifications. Though these situations did vary, they consisted of someone flying in conditions over his head or simple reckless behavior.  Overall, paragliders are not a group of careless individuals. The majority take the time and energy to prepare and respect the conditions in which they should or should not fly in. Like any other outdoor enthusiasts, they enjoy making the most of the wonderful area we live in.
    Our valley hosts the Sun Valley Paraglider Club, a reputable group with a host of training courses. There is a wealth of knowledge among all the members, several of whom are world-class pilots. Stop by and learn from our group.
    Finally, I want to thank all of the rescue crews for their selfless dedication to our valley. We are all indebted to your services; thank you.
Tom Frazer
President, Sun Valley Paragliding Club

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