Into the Story


Episode 35 - Paragliding - Artwork

Episode 35: A Story About A Paragliding Accident

Nivel: Intermedio
Acento: Canadiense

¿Alguna vez te has preguntado qué pasa si, haciendo parapente, tienes un problema con tu paracaídas mientras estás en el aire? Esta es la desafortunada situación en que se encontró Jaclyn, nuestra invitada de hoy. Paragliding (parapente) es un deporte extremo basado en utilizar el paracaídas como un vehículo aéreo en vez de un simple método salvavidas. A few years ago, Jaclyn was dating a professional paragliding pilot, so she tried very hard to like the sport, but things didn’t go as expected… 

Today’s story is about a paragliding accident. Listen carefully as Jaclyn describes the day that everything started to go wrong. She uses very precise language, so you are sure to pick up on many useful expressions along the way, such as ‘gauge‘, ‘harness‘, and ‘landing pad‘. Como siempre, puedes escuchar el episodio de esta semana aquí abajo o en tu plataforma de podcasts favorita. Tune in below! 

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“I could tell the ground was coming up faster, but I wasn’t paying attention to that at the moment. I could see treetops getting closer, but I was just focusing on holding out my glider and then finding a place where my lines and my paraglider or the other pilot weren’t in the way”
– Jaclyn

Bree (00:05): Hi there, listeners. It’s your host, Bree here. And today we’re going to hear a story about Jaclyn’s paragliding accident. En el podcast de hoy, escucharemos a Jaclyn de Canadá, que compartirá con nosotros la historia del día en que tuvo un accidente de parapente.

Jaclyn (00:38): Jaclyn, and you’ve been in a midair collision. Listen to me. We’ve practiced this. In which we had practiced this because just two weeks prior to this day, I had done a clinic learning how to deploy your reserve parachute.

Bree (00:54): Jaclyn is introduced to the world of paragliding by her boyfriend at the time, Chris Muller, a pro paragliding pilot with lots of experience and knowledge of the extreme sport. Jaclyn describes in great detail the technique involved in completing her flight that day. With Chris watching over her and giving her instructions, everything seemed to be going to plan until suddenly it didn’t. Keep listening to learn more about paragliding and what happened to Jaclyn that day.

Bree (01:30): And a really quick thing before we get into it, have you shared Into the Story with anyone else yet? You know, like your friend who is always looking for a new way to improve their English. I would be so grateful if you would just take 1 minute to share this episode with someone that you know would find it valuable. All you have to do is head to the platform where you’re listening. No matter where you listen, click the ‘Share’ button or icon and just send it on over. Thank you so much for doing so.

Bree (02:02): Okay antes de escuchar la historia de hoy, veamos 5 palabras y expresiones interesantes que utiliza Jaclyn en este episodio: First, to end up to end up is a phrasal verb that we use in English to mean to arrive at a particular place or to find yourself in a situation that maybe you didn’t intend to be in. Jaclyn uses this expression to talk about the landing point that she needs to get to after launching off the top of a mountain with her paraglider to end up.

Bree (02:41): Next, a slope. A slope in English refers to a surface that has one side higher than another – una cuesta o una inclinación en español. We can also use slope as a verb. For example, I could say the beach slopes down towards the sea. A slope.

Bree (03:04): Then comes the word glide. In today’s podcast, Jaclyn is going to use a lot of specific words and expressions related to paragliding. Glide is one of these technical words, which means to fly smoothly through the air in a continuous motion. For example, if you see a bird gliding, it means they are flying without moving their wings up and down. To glide.

Bree (03:31): Next to lift off. To lift off is a phrasal verb in English that means something similar to take off, despegar en español. We usually use lift off to talk about vehicles such as rockets or planes taking off or launching off the ground in a vertical direction. To lift off.

Bree (03:54): And finally, to fit in. To fit in can be used in a couple of key ways in English. Firstly, if I fit in with a group of people, it means that I am comfortable with them and we all get along with each other. You’ll hear Jaclyn today talk about fitting in with her boyfriend, Chris’s paragliding friendship circles. Alternatively, if something or someone fits in a space or room, it means that there is sufficient space for something. For example, I could say that we didn’t all fit in the elevator, so we had to wait for the next one. To fit in.

Bree (04:37): Tienes la transcripción, la ficha de vocabulario, y un test de comprensión de este episodio siguiendo el enlace en las notas del programa. Okay! Let’s get into the story…

Bree (04:52): It’s 2003, and Jaclyn is standing on the edge of a mountain, getting ready to jump. She starts running as fast as she can towards the Ridge. As she runs, she can feel the weight of her paraglider on the ground behind her, and then suddenly she feels it come up off the ground. She’s flying.

Jaclyn (05:15): During this time, I had a radio in my ear, and I was listening to the voice of my boyfriend, Chris Muller, who was a very prominent paragliding pilot, and I was very new to it. I’d only been flying for about two years. Paragliding flying is what you call it.

Bree (05:35): On that day, Jaclyn was learning to soar for the first time, soaring is what birds do. A bird soars over the sea. In paragliding, soaring is a more complicated flying style that Jaclyn had never done before. Soaring involves the paraglider pilot using hot air currents to gain altitude and to stay in the sky longer.

Jaclyn (06:00): So today was my first time I was going to try soaring. Now it was definitely a bit intimidating because on the launching pad, there were about 50 to 100 other pilots who were about to do a competition. Seeing as we still had an hour or two before the competition started, I was just going to go in the air and be a wind dummy, which means that the other pilots would be able to get an idea of how the air is. Was it really bumpy? Would the thermal take you high really quick, or did you have to work really hard to catch those thermals to get high in the air? So I stood there listening to my boyfriend’s voice, and at that point, he said, okay, you’re good to launch. So as hard as I can with my hands behind me holding onto my brake lines, I just start running. The glider will catch the wind, and as I’m running, I see it coming higher above my head. And right before I’m about to take my feet off the ground, I look up to make sure the entire glider is open. And once I see it’s good to go, I keep going until it kicks me up in the air, and you just keep running, and eventually your feet lift off the ground.

Jaclyn (07:03): As I take off, I was looking around. There wasn’t any other pilot in the air. It was a really clear day. Then Chris came in the air and said, okay, Jaclyn, everything’s looking good. I want you to look to your right and slowly start turning the glider. As you’re soaring, what you’re doing is turning circles and trying to see where you can find the hot air rising to take you higher in the air. I was very focused on his voice. I wasn’t maybe looking around as much as I should. I was just listening to him and where he was telling me to go. Kind of the same way you’d probably listen to your Google Maps in the car, just sort of on autopilot, listening, maybe not really being aware of your surroundings because you’re in a new area. For me, I was in a new flying site. I had never been there. I had been in the air only a few minutes, and I was doing these circles to the right, and then again, I would go to the left to try and get higher in the air. I didn’t feel like I was ascending very fast, but I definitely was gaining altitude through my soaring.

Jaclyn (08:07): Chris was in the air, and I remember he was excited saying, you’re soaring, you’re doing it. How does it feel that I was just focused on just tell me where to go next.

Bree (08:18): Everything seems under control. Jaclyn had successfully launched into the air, and now she was listening to Chris’s voice, guiding her through her first soaring experience.

Jaclyn (08:31): I was about 300ft in the air from the launching site above the mountain, so that’s definitely not very high. As I was turning to the right and doing… completing another 360, catching a thermal. As I came around away from the mountain, I saw a flash of blue, and I heard a whole bunch of fabric noises, and it was a very aggressive hit. I didn’t really realize at the time what was happening. I thought that maybe I had had a wing collapse. There was lines all in my face. There was a heavy weight on me. I looked down, and I could see that there was a person, a pilot in a harness, hanging below me. His parachute, as it swung around, my line had completely collapsed and was hanging below him. And then out to the side of us was my parachute, which was half collapsed.

Bree (09:24): Another pilot has collided with Jaclyn. His parachute has collapsed, and he’s now hanging off her. The tangled pilots begin to fall from the sky at an increasingly fast pace. They are just 300ft, about 90 meters up in the air, which means they don’t have a lot of time to do something about the situation.

Bree (09:48): Now at this time, still not registering in my mind exactly what was going on. I heard Chris’s voice saying, Jaclyn, you’ve been in a midair collision. Listen to me. We’ve practiced this in which we had practiced this because just two weeks prior to this day, I had done a clinic learning how to deploy your reserve parachute. So I was very calm. I knew exactly what happened. I looked down. I could see this other person hanging below me off my harness. I pulled out my parachute and I held it next to my body for a minute listening to Chris in my ear. Now, during this time, the glider is slowly turning to the right and it’s accelerating in speed, which is… I was very close to or had already begun to be locked into a spiral.

Bree (10:40): Jaclyn is falling in spirals towards the ground. Chris is still giving her instructions. Jaclyn knows she needs to activate her reserve parachute by throwing it out to the side and grabbing the lines to open the parachute and hopefully slow their fall.

Jaclyn (10:58): I started slowly descending, but it’s not an immediate fall. I could tell that the ground was coming up faster, but I wasn’t paying attention to that at the moment. I could see treetops getting closer, but I was just focusing on holding out my glider and then finding a place where my lines and my paraglider or the other pilot who was attached to me wasn’t in the way. So at this time, I took the glider. I threw it out to the left side. I threw it as far as I could, and then I grabbed onto the lines as it was flying out and I pulled them in as fast as I could to try and get air into this glider so you can activate it and have it stop your fall. As I was flying out, it didn’t activate right away. I kept having to pull the lines and pull the lines, but because our spiral was starting to accelerate so fast, eventually it did engage and I heard a very loudest pop and the whole thing just pops open. And very quickly, we both myself and the pilot below me stopped. And then instantly, as soon as that pop there was only about 1 second and we hit the tree tops. And then when we hit the trees, I fell through the trees and through the branches, and then we both hit the ground.

Bree (12:07): The parachute opens just in time, slowing down Jaclyn’s fall. This means that both her and the other pilot crash into the trees, but the impact is not nearly as violent as it could have been.

Jaclyn (12:21): In my ear, I heard Chris. He said, Jaclyn, don’t move. I saw where you landed. We’re all coming to you. And at that point, I sat up and I looked over to this other pilot. He popped his head up. All I could see was a big mess of long blonde curls and hair. And I said, Are you okay? And he looked at me and said, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t really understand why he was apologizing. I was just focused on what happened. Are you hurt? Do you need any help?

Jaclyn (12:52): So we were just kind of doing a checklist of how we were feeling. We were looking at our arms during this time, looking at our legs, looking at our scratches, getting out of our harness, unclipping, standing up moving around and just trying to gauge how we were. I could not believe no one, neither of us, had a broken bone.

Jaclyn (13:12): After the accident, there was… Chris was feeling I remember he was feeling very guilty that it happened, probably because he also wanted me to enjoy it. And for the two years that I had done it, I didn’t really know if I ever liked it.

Jaclyn (13:26): There was a lot of time we spent at the top of the hill just waiting, watching other pilots launching. Then it was too windy or there was no wind at all and you would go right back to the landing pad right after you launched and weren’t able to get any thermals. I just found it. It was very time consuming and I was really trying hard to enjoy paragliding because paragliding was his life. He ran a flying school. He taught people how to do this. This was his career and so I really had to fit in and really had to enjoy this to be part of his life. And after the accident, I really realized that there is nothing I like about it and I don’t want to do it again.

Bree (14:05): Jaclyn and Chris broke up not long after her accident and I’m very sad to tell you that he died in 2005. He was passionate about flying and died doing what he loved. I want to say a very big thank you to Jaclyn, who also happens to be my big sister. I’ve grown up hearing this story, but in interviewing her for the podcast, It came alive in a new way. Chris was just 29 years old when he died, which I now realize, he was so young, too young. And I also didn’t really understand how much the accident changed my sister. Sometimes things just happen to us and change us forever. You can see a picture of Jaclyn and Chris on our website, acingles.com.

Bree (15:00): Para escuchar todos los episodios de Into the Story y no perderte los siguientes, suscríbete ahora en Spotify, Apple Podcasts, o en tu reproductor de podcasts favorito. Ok everyone, until next I hope you have a good time or at least a story to tell.

Wonderful Words

an uneven surface
an experience involving sudden movements

to estimate or determine the amount or dimensions of something

a to move smoothly through the air

to take hold of something suddenly in with your hands

straps or cords that attach someone to a vehicle or apparatus

an apparatus that controls the speed of a fall

a long narrow hilltop or mountain range

a surface where one side is higher than the other

Excellent Expressions

to end up
to arrive at a destination or situation,
perhaps unexpectedly

landing pad
a specific area in the ground where a flying vehicle or person can land safely

to lift off
to take off from the ground in a vertical direction

Jaclyn and Chris in Florida (2004) 

We hope you enjoyed today’s episode of Into The StorySi has disfrutado con la historia de Jaclyn, y quieres seguir avanzando con tu inglés con nuevos episodios,  suscríbete a la AC family newsletterWe can’t wait to see you there! 

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