Photo: Looking down at the Wacouta Launch, Frontenac, Minnesota
Facing my paraglider on the ground, I step back and pull up my wing which catches the wind flowing over my back. The cells fill with air and it shoots above my head. Ten feet from the edge of the bluff and 400 feet above the Mississippi River, I turn, take a step toward the edge, and we are airborne. I am committed to launch. It is 1:05 pm on Thursday, October 3rd, 2018.
If you desire a successful outcome, making a commitment requires you to be brutally honest with yourself. In life, making a commitment to a relationship or a business decision entails risk. If you make a mistake, you might get emotionally hurt or you may lose money. In high risk sports like paragliding, the consequences are more severe: you risk physical injury or you may lose your life.
The wind is strong at the edge of the drop-off. Time slows as my glider penetrates forward and the wind lifts me up. Within five seconds, I am fifty feet above launch. Turning right, I clear the trees, head east down river, and continue to climb. A successful outcome.
The Wacouta Launch at Frontenac is a serious, high consequence launch. If you look at the photo I shot from 1400 feet above the river, you can see there is no landing below launch. There are no good outcomes if you don’t establish yourself in the lift band above the bluff. The hang glider pilots say you can make the beach 2500 feet up river if you don’t get up. Doubtful on a paraglider. If you do the math, a five to one glide ration into the wind and four hundred feet of altitude only gets you 2000 feet of horizontal distance. To commit to launch at Frontenac you need to be totally honest with yourself regarding your ability and the weather. You should be mentally prepared to abort if you are not in the air and going up before you get to edge of the bluff.
The same is true in life. If you want a successful outcome, you need to prepare, be open minded, objective, and honest with yourself. If it doesn’t feel right, or if someone you trust says don’t do it, move in another direction. “Tis he who fight and run away. Live to fight another day.” Bob Marley.