When I woke up to the sounds of birds frolicking and Khancoban trailer trash bickering, I didn’t know that I was mere hours away from paragliding immortality. Alright, maybe that’s taking things a bit too far, but I was about to smash my own personal best and have a bloody good time doing it. But there was to be some drama before before I even left the ground.
As I was unpacking my glider on top of Mt Elliot, Klaus pranced over to me while licking the remnants of last night’s quarkkäulchen from his smug face.
“Perhaps today you fly all the way to the moon!” he chortled, as his followers crowded around. “Nein, nein, who am I kidding? You maybe fly as far as I can throw wiener dog, haha! Silly man!”
Klaus’s entourage started laughing at me, and everyone on the hill looked my way to see whether I would respond. Klaus was just leering at me, his stupid German eyes bulging out of his sweaty face, and I knew I had to hit him where it hurt.
“Yeah, well,” I said coolly, putting my helmet on, “I fucked your mum.”
The hill went wild. Pilots slapped each other high fives and started calling me a legend. The Germans pushed Klaus over and surrounded me, chanting my name. My tormentor crawled off into the bushes like some sort of deranged goanna, never to be seen again. My new followers demanded I take to the skies, and I was not about to disappoint them.
Alright, I may have disappointed them a bit, as the light conditions demanded that I make four attempts to actually launch, but when I finally got up there I treated them to an unrivalled display of paragliding glory. I hooked a few thermals and climbed into the sky, making it well above launch before pushing out into the valley. I managed to link a few thermals, which was a skill I definitely didn’t have a few days earlier, and watched as the countryside washed away below me.
Inland is flying is tough, because it’s a rough ride and often incredibly humbling. The rewards are immense, however. Learning how to handle how to thermals, thinking about how to cross the valley, and watching my skills rapidly improve was incredibly satisfying. Soaring above such a beautiful valley, watching dams twinkle far below and mountains look like speed bumps, was humbling and awe-inspiring.
As I started to sink out, I looked into the distance and saw a racecourse. I set my sights on landing in front of the historic grandstand, catching a few more small thermals while I imagined touching down in front of an adoring crowd. I brought myself down right next to the home straight and landed like a feather before looking up to see that there wasn’t a person there. I’d missed out on the next meeting by around 11 weeks – but there was a very appreciative donkey tied up to a post.
There wasn’t anyone there to cheer my epic performance, but that didn’t matter. When I looked at my vario, it told me something that brought a massive smile to my face – I’d flown 6.01 kilometres, my best performance by far! Sure, it probably doesn’t qualify me for the world championships, but I was pretty bloody proud of my effort.
Scott was obviously pretty proud of his flight, too. He’s a deeply troubled individual who struggles every day with being an Oriental in a white man’s world. Paragliding seems to be his only escape from this torment, and I think his time in Corryong was really cathartic for him. I really hope he can overcome his demons and find peace, because his bad boy attitude remains remains a blockade between him and true happiness.