Since Hubby's been spending all this time flying and will continue to do so, he thought it would be a good idea to take an SIV course. This is a course that teaches you how to recover if your wing does something funky like collapse mid-flight, lets you practice things like spirals, and gives you an opportunity to throw your reserve 'chute*. Of course, you hope that you never have to throw your reserve 'chute in real life, but if you do, it's nice to have some idea of what's going to happen when you do. All of this is done over a lake with a boat crew standing by for retrievals.
To start things off, the boat would tow the pilots around the lake until they gained about 4,000 feet in altitude, then the pilot would unhook the tow rope and instruction would begin.
The particular lake that we were at is Lake Berryessa, about two hours outside of Sacramento. I had never heard of this before, but I really liked it. Even though we were there over a weekend in June, it felt like we had the whole lake to ourselves. It was really hot on the lake shore, but we did have a nice big oak tree that we were able to park ourselves under while everyone in the class took turns going through their maneuvers.
As a general rule, and for various reasons, I think spouses/significant others are generally not encouraged to attend; but I was curious to see what was going on, and I think I managed to stay out of the way and not be too big of a distraction. When other people heard that I sat and watched, they inevitably asked, "Weren't you nervous, watching him do all that??" The answer is no. In fact, I think I am probably more comfortable now, having seen just how recoverable the wings really are and how well you can actually fly, even with half a wing collapsed. The other thing that made me not worry was that I was on the ground with the instructor who was in radio contact with the pilots at all times, so I could hear everything that he was telling them to do; and, I have to say, he is probably one of the coolest, calmest, most collected people I have ever met-very confidence-inspiring. Seeing somebody's wing collapse mid-flight is one thing-that'll make your heart stop for a second; but watching somebody's wing collapse as the instructor is next to you, calmly talking him through an induced collapse makes it more interesting than heart-stopping.
More interesting, less heart-stopping, because I know this was a planned event.
All in all, an interesting, if unconventional, start to my summer vacation. We met some really great people, and I think it's safe to say that everyone walked away feeling a lot more confident and, hopefully, a lot safer.
Up next: Camping in the red woods!
*7/7/11-I would just like to admit here and now that it took me this long to realize I had spelled 'chute (as in parachute) "shoot". Stuff like that would have never slipped by me 10 years ago. What's going on??