I have had little to say on this blog for the last days. Of course the tragic events and the high number of incidents have brought about a dramatic statement from the CIVL and of course the closure of the Worlds event here in Piedrahita. A fatality or otherwise serious incident is of course what we have most been fearing in the lead up to this competition, especially with the high number of accidents in the CAT 2 events preceeding the Worlds in the last months (including our own Spanish Nationals in June). Since the accident it has been so hard to satisfy the needs and demands of the pilots and the authorities which have been of course in many cases quite contrary.
As the majority of the pilots wished to continue with the event then I tried to see a way through in which we might convince the FAI and CIVL that we could proceed with a higher degree of safety. Of course the right and proper thing to do in respect of Eitel and Tato would have been to stop immediately, which has been the correct and final thing we have done. Sometimes it is difficult to see the right decision when you are at the centre of such a major tragedy and I sincerely hope that my actions have show no disrespect to Eitel and Tato. The Town Hall held 2 days of offical mourning , and during this time I proposed that working groups of those interested in going ahead should find a way to proceed with a safe competition with the current rule structure. I warned them that this would need a radical rethink of the whole structure of paragliding racing which the current format enforces. Of course this very race format is exactly what many of them find most exciting, so it was aways going to be difficult to find a solution accepted by all. I also demanded that the paraglider manufatureres and their test pilots present should hold a seminar with the test videos and explain the full implications of flying these new 2 line gliders. At this time of course I was dealing very much within this small intense circle of people without looking at opinion from the outside world. Yesterday morning after looking at the reaction in the wider world and with further evidence and reports that some of these accidents were happening even at trim speed, then of course it looked as though there could be no solution that would satisfy the CIVL and allow us to continue with the event. On a positive side the working groups have come up with some good ideas for the future. Also the Seminar by the test pilots and designers demonstrated that many of the pilots present were flying a wing that gives a strong feeling of security, but which few of them could deal with correctly in the case of a major colapse, either accelerated or trim in unstable air.
We made a prize ceremony today as the even has been validated. There have been of course other CAT 1 events with only 2 tasks, so we should rightly applaud our new champions. Of course we and the winners never wanted it that way. The prize giving should have been a week later, and with the weather forecast, it looks as though we might only have lost 1 task. Of course I am especially pleased for the British Team and am very gratefull to Burkitt Rudd for his assistance in chairing the working group, and especially Russell Ogden who helped us on our first Mandatory Safety Briefing and with Luc in the Test Pilot/Designer Briefing yesterday.
We still have a lot of pilots with us who don´t return home untill later in the week. Tomorrow the Team Leaders will get to fly. Even myself and Paul hope to get into the air. We will be handing out the live trackkers so you can see what we are up to on the live trackker page of www.piedrahita2011.com.