I got back yesterday from 2 weeks holiday to hear the news that a paragliding friend was killed at my club last week. Stick wasn't a close friend, but I have often flown with him and been helped out by him with advice on conditions or a pre-flight once-over before launching on the winch. He was always ready with a sarcastic remark and a twinkle in his eye. I'm really shocked that he's gone.
And of course, being human, I'm also thinking about how this affects me. Stick had hundreds, maybe thousands of hours under his belt. He was a far more experienced and better flier than I will ever be. Yet he was killed anyway. He had a frightening, painful, and premature death. I'm not particularly good at paragliding, it would be very easy for me to have an accident. In fact I've already had one (flew myself into a small tree immediately after takeoff).
And this comes shortly after meeting a guy in a wheelchair (not permanently hopefully) at Greenbelt - another paragliding accident.
So is it time for me to give up and concentrate on the boardgaming. Let's face it, no-one ever died playing Civilization (did they?)
I guess most long-term paragliders have reached this point at some time and decided - in the end - that the rewards of the sport are worth the risks. That you have to die some day - that cholesterol or cancer will get you in the end even if you never fly again. When I started the sport I think I would have agreed - I was single, in a boring job, a bit lonely, and probably didn't feel I had that much to lose. It's different now, I'm newly married to an amazing woman, I'm starting on a new path with my Masters course. I'm really looking forward to the next few years, I'm not ready to go yet. And I don't think that paragliding is quite the overriding passion for me that it was for poor Stick.