SAFA Skysailor Magazine

14 SKY SAILOR September | October 2020 by Mark Wager As a child I had a chrome ‘mobile' with hang gliders over my bed, bobbing up and down and forever circling over me, in unending 360s. My day dreaming of flying started then, I think. I finally saved enough money to try it for real around 26 years of age. I did a six weekend course at Canungra in 1989/90, filled with loads of training hill launches, crashes and tiny flights. I finally got the taste of a lovely high flight launching off of Mt Tamborine. It was an exhilirating and very memorable experience. However, a week or two after that first proper flight and getting my HGFA licence in the mail. I bought my first house and fully renovated it over the next three years while studying and working full time. A bad recipe for hang gliding. I got married, had children, other houses, etc. Getting ahead, but not high! Eventually I could look at the sky no more and wonder, action was needed! So I did another hang gliding course, after a 31-year lay off. Flying mainly at Teewah Beach, Rainbow Beach, hills around Toowoomba, Killarney and Dalby – ridge soaring and hill launches as well as ground towing my way into the sky as much as possible. Having a great time with new flying buddies. Building my knowledge and experience. I got my Intermediate licence and upgraded from a floater to a Sting3. Loving the extra responsiveness from the glider, I started getting a bit into thermalling and cut the cord with a couple of small cross-countries. Life was going great, there was hope and wonder before me! Then, three and a half years later, I had a very bad landing brought on by a series of silly decisions I had made: I didn’t go into hang on final approach, I didn’t take the VG off-at all, I tried to get best lift/drag on final approach… I possibly even pushing the bar out a fraction. The resilt was that I tip stalled my left wing about eight metres above the ground. Spiralling down very fast, hitting the ground hard and smashing my head onto the earth. My helmet worked well but not well enough. I spent three weeks in hospital with a closed head injury and developed ‘Post-concussion Syndrome’ which lasted for the next few months. During this time, I couldn’t drive, work or stay awake all day. Eventually, I recovered fully but had decided to sell all of my flying gear to reassure my family that I was thinking of them most of all. Sadly, a divorce followed and once again, my dream of flying returned. A couple of years went by and a friend took me flying at Rainbow on his tandem floater. It was a magical flight. So good to feel the air and wind in my face, fantastic views, My return to hang gliding