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Niki finds the dragon

Niki Longshore writes:

Forbes task 3: It was all going so well. I was charging and
catching up to the first gaggle with my hang gliding hero’s. Jonny and Attila
were just ahead and I was determined to get to them. I did, and even got out
ahead! It was perfect. I couldn’t have planned for it to be better.

I was with Dr. Craig for the most part. We found a good climb, Craig and I
consistently left as the gaggle came to us. I pulled VG, saw Craig sinking bad
off to the right so I veered to the left.

I hit the nastiest air. No warning whatsoever.

Nose up, then straight down. No bar pressure, face down, and then my glider blew up.

I couldn’t believe it.

Luckily I was over 8,000 feet. I had enough time to pull my chute which didn’t
deploy right away. It had wrapped around my neck and my wing tip. My glider was
behind me with only the keel in front. I looked up to see if the chute opened
and it didn’t. I first unwrapped it from my neck and then gave it a good tug. It
was nice to see it inflate but I was still spiraling down uncontrollably.

Needless to say, it was not a good feeling. I didn’t want it to be the end but
reality set in and I realized it could. Not to add to the drama but it was a
pretty traumatic experience. I pulled out my radio to tell the hooligans I love
them, and to pass the word onto my family. I also had enough time to pull out my
SPOT tracker to send an emergency SOS.

After that I thought about how I could get the glider under control with nothing
in front of me except for the keel. I could only use my legs to try to push it
to the right to counter the spiral. It worked for a few seconds, then it started
spiraling again.

I had a few minutes to think about my life and my loved ones, and how much it
was going to hurt when I arrived back to earth.

I could see Jonny off to the side spiraling down with me. What a guy. Jonny, you
are amazing.

Within the last 500 feet I was able to stop the spiral by kicking the keel.

I landed in a perfect paddock, between two trees, right next to the road, and
into the wind.


The touchdown was pretty gentle, but my left ankle took a vertical crush. Me and
ankles = no good.

The way I was spiraling down compared to where I had landed and how gentle it
was, my guardian angel was looking over me. Power lines behind me, a fence and
trees in front. I was saved.

Jonny landed same moment as I did. We hugged, thankful nothing bad had happened.
Tina arrived, Ollie, and Lenny. Judi found me thanks to radio calls being
relayed through the air. There was no signal where I had landed. They helped
pack my wreckage away. Thank you all, and thank you Jonny for coming down with
me. You are a gem.

My brand new glider is completely destroyed. Sail ripped, every batten broken in
half or bent, keel completely destroyed. My dingle dangle, which keeps me
attached to my glider was almost ripped off. Sprogs detached. My glider is
toast, but I’m still here. The only thing I can save is my base bar which is
still solid.

I am lucky, thankful, and so happy to be writing this to you.

I don’t know what happened, why it did, or why I’m here, but I’m here to tell
you I believe it was my guardian angel. ???? Thank you Jesus for another day.

And that is my tumbling experience. I never want to come down under canopy

I love you all. Have a happy new year indeed.
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