The danger of Complacency

I broke my collarbone (also called the clavicula or clavicle). I was mountain biking (trail) in the woods. I was complacent because I was “only riding a bike”, while my competition pilot friends were in Brazil flying the Paragliding World Cup. I had brand new brake pads at the back, with less braking power as the pads were new. The relative braking power between the back and the front had therefore changed and I flew over the handlebars in a steep part and landed on my right shoulder. Complacency can be dangerous, not only when flying but also when biking, driving and cooking (!) Surprisingly many accidents happen in the kitchen.

Since 1996 and approx 1500 paragliding flight hours I have never been in an accident or used my reserve in a real situation (I’ve had a few close calls). I think this is partly because I never allowed myself to become complacent while flying. For example, before taking off I always keep in mind that this might be the day I need to use the reserve. I’m never ashamed of cancelling my flight plans if the conditions are too strong.

I believe it’s dangerous to believe that paragliding is safer than driving a car. Paragliding can be compared to riding a motorcycle. It helps to consider that your safety while paragliding is much more dependent on your own actions and judgements. Riding a motorcycle you are more dependent on others’ actions and judgements as well.

As for my collarbone, this is the first bone fracture I’ve had. I agreed to get a plate and 8 screws inserted 3 weeks ago in order to speed healing. I hope I will be back at cloudbase in 2-3 weeks and biking single tracks in 4-5 weeks. Or maybe I should only fly paragliding competitions. Much safer. 😀

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