I had a frightening experience today at Butser Hill. About 4 in the afternoon I was soaring the north face of the hill, having a great flight in light but thermic conditions, getting high, about 130ft above takeoff. I was the only paraglider in the air - there was one other pilot on the ground packing his wing away. But there were 4 or 5 model gliders flying the same ridge.
Suddenly - a model glider swooped out of nowhere and smacked into the top of my canopy, then tumbled off the trailing edge groundwards. "Shit!" I shouted, heart pounding, but was surprised to find I wasn't spinning or dropping. Looking up I examined the canopy and lines carefully - no damage! So I continued flying for another couple of beats, but I was rattled and had lost my rhythm, and did a clumsy slope landing a couple of minutes after the incident. (I probably should have landed straight away - wasn't thinking straight.)
I packed up slowly and walked back up the hill. I approached the model flyers (politely!) but apparently the guy who flew his model into me had already left. I was feeling angry at this point - at least he could have had the courtesy to stay around to speak to me!
Driving home, and thinking about it this evening, I have started to feel scared by the thought of what might have happened. 150ft above ground - hardly enough space to deploy a reserve. I always told myself that if I experienced a serious incident while paragliding I would quit the sport. Is this that incident?
I have filled out an incident report and will send it to BHPA tomorrow.
I feel like there was nothing I could have done to avoid this collision (a paraglider moves too slow to avoid a fast little model!) except maybe never fly at sites where models are flown. But that excludes nearly every site in S. England! Not sure what to do with this experience......