The End of Racial Inequity

Why constitute myself as group, school, or larger?
Because alone, I have limited power.
As group, school, or world, when I am my word,
And I say something will be (is),
Then I have the power to create it through the very act of speaking it -
The power of generating it through the word that I am.
That’s a lot of power.
Individually, I experience that as scary.
My fear kicks in and screams

            “Don’t do it!  I’ll fail!”

The pull between the individual and the world is in my head.
I am my word.
Nothing else.
And for so damn long, my word has been small.
I am my word.
And my word is?  Is?
What am I up to?

I am the possibility of the end of racial inequity in my children’s school before they graduate.

Push.  Pull.  It’s too big!  It’s too small.
Who cares!?
I do.
And I am the possibility of the end of racial inequity in my children’s school before they graduate.
No!  No!  Wait!
But what about me?!  The individual!
If I am my word, and that possibility, little I will vanish.
I am going to fail!
And so what !?
But my kids are white!
Why should I even care about that?
Because the only way I can not care about racial inequity is to define an "us and them."
That is the antithesis of declaring myself as group, school, or world.
It’s the antithesis of being my word.
I declare...
I am the possibility of the end of racial inequity in my children’s school before they graduate.
Because I say so!!
The ability (or failing) of humanity to see some people as better-than or worse-than others
is the seed of fear, of hatred, of indifference, of war.
It is the antithesis of the love that Christ is for all of his children.

I am the possibility of the end of racial inequity in my children’s school before they graduate.

Sailplane in Arlington

For my birthday, I gave myself a ride in a sailplane with the Evergreen Soaring Club. I fly paragliders whenever I can, and it’s been maybe 18 years since I was behind the yolk of a Cessna 152. But the moment I stepped foot onto the tarmac, I was hit with a flood of joyous memories and sensations.

There was the sound of the prop-planes on the taxi, runway, takeoff, and landing – that distinctive sound of the prop slicing through the air and the Doppler effect as it goes from approaching to fading into the distance.

There was the faint smell of airplane fuel. The smell of Jet-A is quite distinct, and unlike the smell of gasoline, it conjures a sense of power and freedom to travel into the skies.

Of course, there was the sight of all the small planes, tied down to the ground, wheels chocked, and cockpits covered from the outside to protect them from the sun. Unlike a commercial airport where I only see them from the window, here, I could walk among them, place my hand on their fuselage or wingtip and admire their sheer beauty, power, and grace. Even when dormant, they created a sense of walking between the gods of the sky.

There was a gigantic windsock in the center of the field, as well as scattered flags, all giving pilots information about the winds. Ah, yes, the wind! I know it oh so well from my own flights off of Tiger Mountain, but here, on the tarmac, it boldly proclaims “Launch this way today.

There were other people on the tarmac, most of them pilots, and there’s a subtle yet distinctive look of shared honor exchanged between people of the sky. Even being here for a “demo flight” in a sailplane, the feeling is unmistakable. It says “Welcome. We are people of the sky, our hearts live amidst the clouds, and we fill our lungs with the wind. Spread your wings and join us!”

At the far end of the runway was a Piper Arrow, reminding me of the times I flew with my father as a child in his plane. So from a very early age, the spirit of the sky had been seared into my soul.

But for today, here in Arlington field, I am a student. Tory, my instructor, takes me to the plane, waiting on the grassy field. He asks if I’ve flown small planes before, and I confess my sin, having been so many years away from the cockpit. He assures me “So you’re still a pilot… you’re just not current.” Never mind my frequent forays in my paraglider, his words still ring true. Once a pilot, always a pilot. There is something of the sky, which, once it takes hold of one’s soul, will never let go.

At last, standing alongside the glider, he reviews the basic controls of the aircraft. They have not lost their familiarity through the years, but they are different in this craft. And unlike a solo-launch in my Gin Rebel, a sailplane requires a tow pilot, and somebody walking, then running alongside the wing until we get enough speed to keep the wings stable.

The tow plane slowly takes up the slack, and once taught, begins to throttle up for takeoff. We are airborne well before the tow leaves the ground, so we stay low until he too enters the embrace of the sky. Tory has the controls through all of the takeoff, and I follow his instructions, learning what I can about the differences of this craft from others in my history.

At about 5,000′ AGL, we release our tow-line. The tow-plane banks left and we bank right. From here on out, we’re on our own. Tory demonstrates a few maneuvers and asks if I understand. I let him know that it’s all conceptual unless I feel it in my body with the controls. So he hands them over to me, and once again, I’m the pilot in command of my craft.

Gingerly, at first, I play with turns to the left and right. I gently maneuver the ailerons and the elevator with the stick in my hand and then re-acquaint myself with the rudder at my feet. In almost no time, I join the three controls back together in my mind and rewire my brain for this new configuration of flight. Pitch, roll, and yaw – the fundamentals of flight control are nothing new. It is only the connection between which input on my side translates to the proper motions on the outside that I need to relearn, and it comes back remarkably fast.

Tory can probably hear the gears turning inside my skull and in just a few minutes, he asks me to practice some steeper, coordinated turns. All the while, I’m not merely playing with flight – I’m building out a mental spreadsheet! Maneuvers are down the side, aircraft are across the top, and the center squares are the motions and actions required to effect the maneuver in the craft. Except that I’m not really building this sheet at all – I’m passively watching the cells get filled out as my body joyously experiments in this new craft.

Prior to coming here, I acquainted myself with some aerial maps to aid in orientation, but it hardly seemed necessary. I always knew where the airport was, and we seldom ventured far for my inaugural soaring flight. I set us up on the downwind leg of our approach for landing, but Tory took back the controls for base and final while I followed along, maintaining gentle contact with the stick and rudder as he flew the plane in.

In my paraglider, I set final glide to land where I want, and I have minimal control over vertical or horizontal speed at lower altitudes. Final approach is the last hundred feet of descent, and coming in ‘hot’ means anything faster than I can run after flare – maybe 10 knots across the ground. In the sailplane, however, final is still a good 400′ AGL, and we put the nose into a dive to travel closer to 60 knots for greater control. It’s hard to keep my eyes far ahead to avoid the sense of ground-rush.

We appear to be 20′ above the ground at the end of the grassy strip, and 60 knots is COOKING across the ground compared to my paraglider. Descending that last bit of altitude seems to take forever since the wings are long enough to create ground-effect. Plus, with a wheel on the belly of the plane, our final flair is much less pronounced. A perfect flair in my paraglider drops both my vertical and forward speed to almost zero. In the sailplane, we kiss the earth with a gentle descent, but we’re still rolling at a good 30 knots or more for another 500 yards until we finally come to a stop.

It’s a different craft indeed. Precision landing in a sailplane means landing in a soccer field. Precision landing in a paraglider means landing on a frisbee. One is not better or worse than the other – just different – and both are imminently enjoyable, and worth every minute and dollar invested into the experience.

Sparrow Returns

cf..: Tree and Sparrow

Tweet tweet.

Hello, my sparrow.  Many moons it has been since last you alighted upon my branches.  I have missed you, all the while watching your travels from afar.  So tell me, my dear one… who have you become since last we met?

Well, my grandmother, my journeys seem to have taken me in a circle, or perhaps a spiral, to where I now see the same place as before, but from a greater vantage point, not of elevation, but of centering.

And what is the center upon which you now perch?

It is love, my grandmother.  Love in so many ways, for so many things, and people, and places, and circumstances, and stories, and ways of being.  It is a greater sense of love for those around me and the multitude of journeys that we are each traveling.  It is love for not only what is possible, but also for what is in the way – real or imagined – for the obstacles too have lessons to teach me.

Yes, my sparrow, they do.  But often, the obstacles we see are not what they appear.  They are not challenges to be overcome, but invitations to learn new ways of listening.  So tell me, what is it that you hear?

From here, I can hear the sounds of other birds in the trees.  I can hear the sound of the wind gathering strength and energy from the sun, breathing in, and then exhaling into the sky to join the clouds.  I can hear the colder air moving in to take its place.  I can hear the sounds of footsteps from fellow travelers on this journey of life.  I can hear the chatter of other conversations – many conversations – each with its own sense of purpose, for some, and wanderings for others.  I can hear cycles in all things.  I can hear cycles of peace and tranquility, giving way to restlessness, moving into action and exploration and discovery, the joy of learning, and the search for meaning.

I can hear the footsteps of the squirrels and chipmunks at my feet as they look on in wonder at what I am doing in their land talking to you.  I can hear the screech of the hawk far above that would like to make a meal of the little ones at my feet.  I can hear the noise of activity all around.  But most of all, I can hear, or more honestly, I can feel the calm in the center of it all that is rooted in love, deeply rooted in love, and reaches upwards to the sky as an act of creative self expression.  I am learning the value of stillness, of calm, and of patience.  I am letting go of the rush and hurry, and the false sense that there is an arbitrary goal, target, or level of achievement that I must reach.

I am learning that it is indeed good to have goals, dreams and aspirations, but to hold them lightly and to move towards them with the effortlessness of the wind and in harmony with the cycles of all that surrounds me.  I am learning that I am still in charge of my destiny, but that it is far easier to reach my goals by flying with the wind than against it.  And to do that, I must be still and  quite enough to sense where the wind is coming from, and where it is going.  Not all winds are going where I wish to be… so be still.  Be centered.  And throw myself into only the winds that are traveling in alignment with my higher purpose, and grounded firmly in love and connection with others.

It is time to reconnect and fly with my flock, rather than separate or apart from it.  Sparrows are not solitary birds.  Find my flock.  Because I need their help, and I don’t even know what that looks like yet.  But sparrows are not solitary birds.  Join my flock.

Tweet tweet.


Hot Yoga

I went to my first Yoga session today. I met a kindly gentleman up front who would be the instructor. Once in the hot room where we would practice, he suddenly transformed into a cross between Mahatma Ghandi, Richard Simmons, and Adolph Hitler.

His words were soft-spoken, but he gently invited participants to contort themselves into shapes and poses never intended by nature, over and over again. Worse still were the circus-style mirrors at the front of the room that made everything seem rounder than it really was, but only in front of MY spot. The mirror to my right was normal, giving me a perfect view of another woman twisting herself so gracefully and completely, that were she to stand up too suddenly, she would undoubtedly screw herself into the wooden floor without leaving any sawdust whatsoever.

At some point in the 90-minute session, we were all lying on our backs, listening to musical chants in the background. I was completely at peace, knowing full well that if that man gave me so much as one more “invitation” I would kill him. I turned to see where the bastard was hiding, only to find that half the room had left already, and my towel was soaking wet.

I’ll get him next time, for sure.


Learning to Fly (Again)

I’ve got probably 600 flights or more under my wing as a solo paraglider pilot.  I’ve reached a level of unconscious competence that’s nice to be able to draw upon when I need it.  But having just started learning to fly a tandem wing, with a passenger, I find myself very much a beginner all over again.

Yes, I know the basics of how to control a wing, to launch, to land, thermal, and all.  But there is enough different in the world of tandem that I find it takes far more concentration than I would have expected.

When one moves from, say, an economy car to a sports-sedan, all the skills from one car apply to the other – just be mindful that the car is bigger, and you need more space.  But I find the switch from solo to tandem wing more akin to switching from a car to a boat.  Sure, there’s still the notion of steering and navigation, but the dynamics are all different.

On my 2nd tandem flight, Maikel was chatting to me about something and I had to tell him “umm….  I don’t actually have the capacity to carry on a conversation right now.”  And I didn’t!  Literally, doing an activity I had done over 600 times was inadequate preparation for the level of focus and attention that flying a new wing required.  I knew that “talking” was dangerous because it could put me over the edge and have me lose focus.

At one point, we were circling in light lift, and in my solo wing I would have easily done a complete 360 degree turn towards the mountain to stay in the lift.  But in this new wing, which was not even mine, and with another life literally “on the lines” at the end of the wing, I was not willing to make the turn.  Maikel could tell the calculations I was making based on how I was leaning, and even said “go for it,” but I chose not to…. not now.  Not with so little mental capacity to spare should I need to make quick adjustments.

On the next flight, done by tow over water, he asked me “If the tow line broke right now, where would you land?”  Oh yeah… that’s important!  Always have an LZ in mind, if not on glide.  The moment he spoke it, it was obvious I needed to do that, but in truth, it was the farthest thing from my mind.  And when on approach for landing later in the flight, I was more focused on a nice pattern, leaving out our ground-track.   These are obvious things to pay attention to!

So what I’m learning in this new developmental path is that I get to be a beginner all over again, even in an activity where I have already acquired some level of expertise.  I have not lost that expertise, but until I develop my skills again as a tandem pilot, I simply cannot rely upon them being readily available for a while.  Essentially, I’m learning to fly all over again.

Leaving the Nest

Despite having well over 500 flights under my wing, I’ve never really gone cross-country, unless you consider landing at the Issaquah high-school, which hardly counts.  Many are the times when I’ve launched in close proximity to the “big boys” (or Merydeth), only to be left in the dust, sometimes not even making it over to the North ridge.

Today was different.  After a hike up through the heat and launching before the next wave of pilots from the shuttle got there, I managed to climb well above those hovering over the King Dome, and found my way over to the North Ridge without too much difficulty.  There were two other pilots over there, and even as I climbed up through 4,000’, they were still well above me and already over I-90 towards the Sammamish Plateau.  I thought about joining them for the company (and guidance), except that I didn’t see how they were going to get back to the LZ.  Then I looked over at Rattlesnake, knowing that if I went over there, chances are that I would not get back either.

Should I dare cut the psychological umbilical cord to the Tiger LZ?  Would I at least be able to land somewhere other than a tree?  At last, I climbed up over the towers to 4,500 and decided to keep going.  Mind you, that’s probably plenty of altitude to play with, but as it was new territory for me, my sphincter started to pucker when I dropped to 3K, only to find another thousand foot ride back up again.

OK, I’m here… this is new… I don’t think I can make my way back.  But since I’m already going to need a ride when I land, I suppose I should just keep going!  I always kept at least one LZ on glide, seldom going too far one way or the other of the freeway, even though in retrospect, I probably would have been better staying more over the hills.

At one point, I figured I would need to land in what I later realized was Preston.  However, I can be stubborn sometimes, and despite dropping down to about 1,200, I managed to find something over an asphalt park that took me back up to a more comfortable 4K again and I kept going.  At this point I had no clue where I was and no idea where I was going.  Also, having drank all that water on the hike up, staring at the lakes and Snoqualmie river was not doing me any good at this altitude.  I thought about landing on purpose, but after more than 5 years flying, I had never been this far from “home” and didn’t want to land because of an itty-bitty-bladder.

It seemed to me that the LZ’s were getting farther apart at this point.  Sure, there were many places I “could” land, but fewer that I would actually choose to land.  Plus, I vaguely recalled that there were one or two places that looked great but that we were supposed to avoid, but I had no idea what those places were.  (Mental note… do my homework before my next XC flight.)  So instead, I was focusing more on schools with big football fields and golf courses.

I’ve known since I was a student pilot that the more altitude I have, the more options I have, but in traveling XC that became all the more true.  Not only would regaining altitude allow me to see farther, it also increased the range of possible LZ’s that I had on glide.  But regardless of how high I was, there always seemed to be this mental transition point between where I had one LZ in mind, when it was no longer in range, and when the next one came into my comfort zone.  It was akin to Tarzan swinging from vine to vine, where there is that point of letting go the old vine and hoping that the new one will be where it needs to be in time.  The difference was that rather than swinging through the canopy, I was several thousand feet in the sky.  I hardly got so high as to have the air go thin, but I swear that I could actually breathe easier with every hundred feet that I gained in a turn.

When it became clear that my trip was coming to an end, I had two schools to choose from, so I picked the one with a bigger field.  It turned out to be Twin Falls middle and high school, but since this was a Saturday, I could not see any flags flying to give me an indication of the wind.  So I put myself into a gradual turn while watching my GPS.  At one part of my circle I was doing 35 miles an hour, whereas the other side had me going closer to 5.  OK, so it’s clear what direction its blowing up here… I just hope it’s the same as I get closer to the ground.

Ah, yes… the ground.  That thing I should start looking at as I come in for landing.  That field that should be getting closer, was mysteriously getting ever so slowly farther away on my ground-track.  CRUD!!!  That meant that my numbers were 35 MPH to the southwest, versus 5 miles an hour to the southwest, and the “best” number still had me traveling freaking BACKWARDS!  I had set up for what should be a long final, only to realize that I was getting farther away rather than closer to my landing zone!

Fortunately, I was still at about a 700 feet, so I had plenty of space to change the pitch of my wing with the speedbar and increase my forward speed.  I wanted to land as close to the downwind side of the field as I could in order to stay out of the rotor from the trees on the upwind side, but not so close that I risked missing the field altogether.  For goodness sake, we just had the 4th of July last two days ago… couldn’t somebody have enough patriotism to leave their flag up through the weekend?  I was developing a greater appreciation for the traditional LZ with wind-socks on both ends and the chance to watch others come in for landing to see what happened to their wings before I set up for my approach.

Alas, I came in almost dead-center of the field with a ground-track just slightly more than a walk.  I flared my wing like the dickens, but still managed to hit the ground with a grunt before killing my wing so as to avoid getting yarded across the field.  The unfortunate part about the center of the field, however, was that after quickly putting my wing into a rosette, the edge of the field where I could pee was now that much further away.

After packing up my wing, I opened Google Maps on my phone to see where I was, and to figure out how to get towards the freeway.  Two kids were walking near the back of the school and I asked them which way was the quickest way to the front of the school.  They looked at me like I was an idiot, and one said “just go back the way you came,” but then I told him why I couldn’t really do that.  “Oh.  Really?  Cool.  That way.”

I had a sign on the back of my pack that said “Glider pilot needs ride” as I started walking down the road, but nobody was stopping.  I probably wouldn’t stop for me either, as I looked pretty ragged at that point.  Just as I was contemplating tossing a lightweight cotton skirt into my pack for next time, some 86 year old guy in a pickup truck honked and gave me a ride all the way back to the LZ nearly 20 miles away.

He refused any compensation, and I thanked him profusely.  After the requisite “whoo hoo!” and sharing the tale to a fellow pilot or two, I still managed to get home in time to tuck the kids into bed and have dinner with Kristen.

All in all?  An extremely good day!



Click on image to download the Google Earth file

Tree and Sparrow

I am a tree.  I do not struggle to reconnect with the ground, for it is always connected to me, and if ever that were not the case, I would cease to be.  Nor do I struggle in my efforts to be seen, to grow, to bring forth my life into the world.  Growing ever larger, stronger, and more powerful is my nature, and in so doing I contribute to the life of everything around me.

There may be times when I grow more, and times when I grow less, but even in the cold, dark, dormancy of winter, I remain connected to the ground, ready, waiting, silent and still, yet remaining true to my purpose of life.  When the conditions are right, I will awake.  While they are not, I will be still and focused.

But you, young sparrow, have flown from branch to branch, from tree to tree, from hillside to mountain to rocky crag, always sure that you had a purpose, but not heading the call of what that is and what it holds for you.  You have known the wind as your friend and played with it when present, but have yet to fully extend your wings and see that you can fly to great heights on you OWN power.

You have feared that to fly too high would put you too far from the ground that supports you, when nothing could be further from the truth.  The ground is always available to you, and the higher that you fly, the more ground that comes within your view.  The farther you see, the more possibilities open up for you on where to land —  for a moment, a day, or a lifetime.  Your home will always be on the ground, but your life and destiny are to be in the sky.

Look at my branches, reaching in all directions, each one offering a gift of shade, of food, of berries, of shelter or support to you.  Look at my bark, offering a home to the smallest of creatures that climb up my trunk.  We are sisters,  you and I.  And while you take shelter in my strength and stability, I take delight in your power and flight.

Listen to the wind… Do you hear it?  No, you do not.  Instead, what you hear is the sound of me and my brothers as the wind flows through our branches.  That is the sound of two worlds joining together; the threshold between the world of the earth and the world of the sky.

My dearest sparrow, you must fly.  Not just physically, but metaphorically, for only you can reach the heights of your destiny, to live your life of freedom, of purpose, of certainty, of care, of love, of delight, of power, of brilliance, of leadership, of discernment, and of LIFE.

Only then can you return to my branches and share with me your stories.  Only then can you return to the other creatures of the earth and tell them of the beauty of far away lands.  Only then can you inspire and lead others to begin their journey of greatness, whatever that may be.  You can chirp of your dreams as loud as your lungs will allow, but it is only when others see you in flight that they are inspired to reach for their dreams as well.

And so, young sparrow, take flight not of fancy, but of purpose – your purpose – a flight of greatness so that you may return and show others their way.  My branches will be here upon your return, and you can tell me great tales of where you have been, and of renewed purpose for where you will go next.  But fly you must.  The tallest of my branches is but the ground from which you launch.  Go forth into the sky and experience the world as yet unknown to you.  Go.  Go.  Go in peace, and love.

The theme of this post continues, 2 years later, with Sparrow Returns

First Tandem Flight

Today was my first paragliding flight as a tandem pilot. My “passenger” was Drew McNab, who is a tandem instructor. Unlike when learning to drive, especially if your instructor had dual controls, the tandem instructor can only do so much if the student pilot screws up. That, and there’s no way to slam on the breaks in the sky. So in that regard, the instructor must have nerves of steel, considerable trust, or be a massive adrenaline junkie. Maybe all three.

We had almost no wind, so we launched forward. Despite not being able to SEE the wing come up, I generally don’t mind forward launches because I have a good feel for the wing. In this case, however, it was a wing I have never used. Also, there’s that awkward two-step on launch akin to a potato-sack race with all four of our feet shuffling around as we add power to the wing.

The wing came up fine, I think, but when it was at maybe 70 degrees of rotation, I tripped and fell to my knees. Drew asked “do you got it?” (So there’s the blind trust, since he couldn’t see it either), and I yelled GO GO GO!!

As soon as he pulled, I was able to get back to my feet and continue the controlled launch off of the south side of Tiger Mountain.

In the air, but still with little more than a few hundred feet of altitude, it felt like I was driving a large boat. The wing felt huge and sluggish, despite the acrobatics that I’ve seen Drew do with passengers. I missed having a stirrup to put my feet into, as my legs hung down a bit with drew just in front of my lap. There were no real thermals to be had, but this flight was more about launch and landing, anyway.

There were two other pilots in the air at about our altitude, one of whom was a new solo pilot with the long pink tape that screams “I have NO idea what I’m doing, and am under radio control from the ground.” I thought that this time, maybe I should be wearing the streamer, except that I knew exactly what I was doing, but merely lacked skill or experience with this wing or with a passenger.

We pulled Big Ears (made our wing smaller) and sank faster than the others so as to have the landing zone to ourselves. As we set up on the downwind leg of our approach for landing, I started paying closer attention to my glide-ratio so as to gauge the turns I would need to make.

I was maybe 300 feet too high when I turned final in what was anything but a standard pattern approach. I was glad we had dropped down below the others to give more leeway in bleeding it off with additional turns, despite making drew nervous turning that low. I still over-shot the target on the field, but landed several hundred feet from the edge of the field with both of us coming to a full stop, landing on our feet, with the wing collapsing gingerly like a descending cobra behind us.

About this time, I think Drew started breathing again, and said that I actually did quite well, especially for a first-time tandem pilot. At that point, I think I let out a loud Whoo Hoo, as I was pretty stoked! Now, its only three more with an instructor, about 25 with other pilots, and then I can take passengers.

And the driving force for wanting my tandem rating? I so want to be able to share the joy of flight with my children. They are the two of the bigger sources of love in my life, and I hope to share the love of flight with each of them. That, and if I can take them with me, then it becomes that much easier to go flying on the weekends

Where are you From?

Where are you from?
It’s a question to be answered on so many levels…

Where are you from, as an opening for a gargantuan question of purpose and direction. What is the journey you are on now? Where are you on that journey? Have you alway been on this journey, or did you come to this one by way of another shift/pivot/transformation?

Where are you from, as in what have been the cares you have been tending to? Or how has your journey influenced the direction you are going today?

Where are you from, as the definition of who I am, or at least who I have been, rubbing up against the force, power, and drive of the declarations of who I really am and who I am becomming.

Where are you from, as but merely a past, having information, but no longer control over who I am right now, and what I really care about and am further growing to.

Lastly, Where are you from, as a question about the geography or region where you live now, or where you used to live when you were growing up.

So how about you? Where are you from?

Flying High

First off, let me preface this story by asserting that this never happened…  But it is a dream that I have had on several occasions, and I thought I would share it for the purpose of seeing a) if this is a dream other pilots have had, b) to get some perspective, and c) because few things are as much fun as taking a completely fictitious midair collision and ridiculing it to absurdity, which I know this group can do like no other.

In the first variety of this dream, I am paragliding in Eastern Washington somewhere, and a low flying jet plane manages to hook my wing over top of the jet engine.  My wing does not get sucked INTO the engine, but I’m sort of hanging from it, below the intake area, and bouncing around pretty fiercely underneath the wing.   It’s some kind of corporate jet, rather than a commercial jumbo-jet.  Anyway, I think about pulling my reserve, but decide against it because I am still otherwise attached to the plane.  I know that I need to detach first, so I pull out my hook-knife.

I recall hearing something about it being better to cut the risers than all the lines, so I do that.  Except that when I cut the first one, I end up hanging quite precariously sideways, and I find it quite difficult to reach up and cut the second one.  Plus, I’m still banging around on the underside of the wing having none-too-much fun.  Meanwhile, the plane has started descending rapidly for a landing, and I have no clue if they are even aware that I’m hanging on out there.  For all I know, they think they just sucked a pigeon into the engine.  I finally manage to cut the second riser, and as I’m in free-fall, I start to wonder when I should pull my reserve?

I mean, would I really have the wherewithal in that moment to be thinking that?  Probably not.  But in the dream, I’m trying to decide if I should pull right away, perhaps before I hit terminal velocity, or whether to wait until I get maybe a thousand feet or so off the ground.  It’s all moot, because I’m falling all topsy-turvy and can’t get myself into a stable position with my harness on, and when I see the ground, I know – PULL NOW!

The reserve deploys without error, and it turns out that I am right over some small airfield.  That’s when I see some corporate jet coming in for a landing with half of a paraglider wing draped over one engine, heading right towards me.  And it’s some time around here that I wake up.

In the second version of this dream, I’m flying in the Issaquah region, and I know that I am clearly VFR, and well under the 6K ceiling.  Then some small, single engine plane that is also flying VFR and under the ceiling runs into me, and my wing somehow goes over the nose, completely obscuring all the windows on the plane.  Never mind that the prop would have caught the lines and either torn them or wound me up.  This is a dream, so normal rules of physics that I’m sure people will comment on simply don’t apply.  I’m hanging well below this plane, and although I cannot see him, the pilot is probably freaking out.

Yes, I’ve just been hit by a plane, and for some reason, I’m worried about the other pilot.  Probably, that’s because he puts his plane into a steep climb, since he knows he was below the mountain peaks when he hit me.  Except that he rapidly breaks through the class Bravo, and though I know darn well that I’m not supposed to be there, I don’t think the other pilot knows that.

So we’ve got altitude, which means we have time, and I’m actually quite calm and collected at this moment.  I reach down for my radio, switch to 121.5, and ask to speak to somebody in Seatac Air Traffic Control.  They ask if they can put me on hold, and I tell them that I’m already on hold, on the underside of another aircraft, climbing through 8K now somewhere over Renton.  The ask for my call-sign, I tell them that I don’t have one, and they are about to hang up.  Wait a minute!  This is a RADIO, not a telephone!  You can’t hang up on me!

“Ma’am, this is Seatac ATC, and we serve the commercial and recreational pilot community.  I’m going to have to ask you to clear this channel.”

I try explaining my predicament to the person on the other end, but to no avail.  They simply don’t want to talk to me.  So then I ask for the frequency of the pilot with a paraglider over its windshield flying at my approximate location.

“Ma’am, what makes you think we know what frequency the other pilot is on?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure that if you stood up inside that control room of yours and asked ‘is anybody talking to a panicked VFR pilot who just lost all visibility?’ that somebody would speak up.  I need that idiot’s frequency.

So  manage to get the right frequency, switch my radio over, and find myself in the middle of a conversation with a very agitated, purely VFR pilot, and somebody else from ATC.  ATC is trying to calm this guy down, telling him that they have cleared traffic from the area, and that they will guide him down into Renton air field, but he has to level out, and then descend well below the 12K he’s flying at now, which explains why it’s so dang cold.

The ATC guy is a real professional… calm, soothing, and gets the VFR pilot’s head back on straight as he starts descending.  Part of me is thinking that I don’t want to do anything to upset this fellow, but I also still think that neither ATC, nor the VFR pilot have a clue what’s going on.  Finally, I interrupt with something innocuous like “Dude!  Are you the guy with a paraglider draped over your cockpit?”

“A what?”

“A paraglider.  It’s red, probably translucent, and depending on what part of the wing you’ve got up front, you might even see the word ‘Gin’ on your window somewhere.”

“Yes!  Yes!  So THAT’s what happened!  I hit a paraglider!  Now it makes complete sense.  How did you know?”

“Hang on for a second,” I tell him, and I somehow manage to knock on the bottom of his fuselage with my fist.  “Did you hear that knocking?”

“Yes!  What was that??”

“Good.  That was me.  It means I’m talking to the right idiot.  I’m the paraglider pilot on the other end of that wing, hanging out down here by your wheels… on the freaking OUTSIDE of your plane.”

At that point, the two of us actually start carrying on a casual conversation about the merits of each of our respective aircraft, when I get a brilliant idea.  I look down at my GPS, then direct the pilot on a course bearing 150 degrees for about 3 miles; then 0 degrees for a mile or two; then 310 degrees for a few miles.

Technically, I’m still on a paraglider flight – I launched from Tiger, and I’m still attached to my wing.  I’ve got this guy running Tiger-Tag points with me.  Let me tell you, Dave Wheeler’s gonna scream!

After raking up a few bazillion points, it dawns on me that I’ve still got to find a way to get both of us back on the ground.  I don’t actually remember the landing much, except that after we were on the ground, there was a fire truck, an ambulance, a few policemen, and more paperwork than I can describe.  Plus, I know that when the local flying club hears about this, I’m never going to hear the end of it.

By the time I get back home, it’s close to midnight, but I upload my GPS track to Leonardo and submit it for tiger-tag scoring.  Wheeler calls me first thing in the morning to say that he disqualified my flight because I broke airspace, and to point out where I could have scored a few more points.  Despite my best efforts to convince him that there was actually a working transponder and two-way communication with ATC, he simply refused to hear it.

And then I wake up.