If at first you don’t succeed…

For years and years I have been trying to prove my worth in hang gliding. Entering competitions in the beginners class and desperately trying to complete at least part of a task or just land somewhere where I couldn’t see the hill I had taken off from. I was beginning to think I was a terrible pilot and it was never going to happen.

But then!

One beautiful day, I tentatively took off from Clatter hill, Powys. I always try not to put too much pressure on myself so that I don’t feel too disappointed when I fly straight to the bottom landing field. But Sunday the 5th August was different!

I spent 15 minutes scooching up and down the ridge until suddenly I felt a great thermal, I started circling with a few other pilots and rising up to cloudbase. Drifting back behind the hill can be pretty daunting but I told myself not to look down and just concentrate on keeping in the thermal.

At that point I carried on downwind on task, flying from cloud to cloud, topping on height when needed. It was an incredible day, perfect flying conditions and breathtaking views. In my elation I thought I had flown straight past the turn point. I didn’t think that it was worth going back for seeing as I had almost beaten my personal best flying distance.

I carried on to goal at 30 km, but incredibly I has still boating about at cloudbase! I decided to carry on downwind for a further 20 km, before spiralling down from base and landing (seeing as I didn’t actually know where I was going!).

After a happy landing I found out that I hadn’t actually missed the first turnpoint of the task – and had won the task for the day!

Hang gliding remains to be both the most challenging and rewarding sport I have ever tried – and it’s good to remind myself that if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!

Charlie was inspired to take up hang-gliding at 16 by her dad. After just a week of training she began flying with a club and five years on is now taking part in the British open series competition and expanding her cross-country experience. She aims to encourage young people to try the sport, and prove that it’s possible to juggle work, study and flying!

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