Interview with “Flying Femmes”! Thanks Erica Dobie!
WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO FLY?
In 2002, Southside of Sierra Nevada,Spain with Carlos González-„Horizonte Vertical“! Not an easy teacher but a really good one! I think I copied a lot from him!
WHY DID YOU START?
I actually went to Spain to work on a horse farm but I stumbled over a sign saying PARAGLIDING! After the first tandem I was sure I wanted to learn how to control it and to fly with it wherever it would take me – like a steering leaf!
WHEN DID YOU START FLYING ACRO?
In 2009… I had a BlueXS on which I learnt FullStall, Spins and Helicopter. Now I fly the Thriller X3.
Since 2006! I love the job but it is intense! You need a lot of experience and a lot of responsibility! I think this job should be paid much better and there should be a more demanding selection to become an instructor! I will do my performance trainer soon so I could teach SIV but this is even more intense! Let’s see if I could do an SIV for girls one day!
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT FLYING?
I started studying physiotherapy half a year ago and this is really time intensive but also really good! It gives me a link to the ground and a perfect focus in life! Before this I was flying much more and I worked quite a lot in teaching and flying tandems. It showed me that not flying all the time is actually better for progression than flying too much! It is not just flying that makes me happy! It is a good mix! I need my friends who don’t fly the same as my friends who fly!
HOW DID YOU GET INTO ACRO?
My Ex-boyfriend! He and his friend where just talking about doing Helicopters. I was tired of just listening and I was sad that nobody paid attention to how I flew! So I said „I will know it before you“! And that’s what happened!
I went to Lago d’Idro, a quiet, hidden place near Lake Garda in Italy! There I could train Fullstalls, Spins and while doing a Spin I ended up in a Helicopter just by mistake! Then I was sure I wanted to learn Helicopter just to win my bet! After knowing helicopter both sides I couldn’t stop and I continued! Now I know Infinity, Esfera, even Reverse stuff. New things like Booster and Jocker and some basic twisted stuff I’m training at the moment but there is no end! What will be next?
OTHER THAN WORKING RUNS, HOW DO YOU TRAIN?
Whatever feels good to me I try to do! But I think I should prepare my runs with more visualization, studying, mental training and so on. I’m too lazy! Often I come to the take off without knowing what to fly which is not so good for a comp! Something to improve!
DO YOU FLY XC AS WELL?
When I started flying I was more into XC! I won the Newcomer Class in XC in 2007! Even before I got my license I made little tours around the valley! After competing in 2007 with so many good and long flights, I joined the Austrian League but I ended up in a tree while training and my passion was not like before! There were many reasons why I stopped… like the wrong harness, the wrong glider, not much time, no strategy, too much teaching, too many tandems etc.! I felt lost and wasn’t motivation to continue.
WHY DO YOU LOVE TO FLY?
I love to have control and, in Acrobatic flying, you learn how to get control and you can even enjoy flying upside-down! I enjoy being in the air. It doesn’t matter if it’s flying cross country, soaring, acro or just playing with the wing on the ground. It is finding the balance of your skills to control you and your wing in any given circumstance! Also, paragliding helps me to understand how I really feel today! In the sky, you cannot lie to yourself! You are just you!
IN WHICH COMPS HAVE YOU REACHED THE PODIUM?
All since 2011! Missing the ones in 2013 to recover from my accident. I reached the podium every time but not the top! I started to win in 2014! It was a nice comeback to win in Omegna/Acroaria last year! It gave me motivation to continue!
WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO TRAIN?
I don’t mind – France is cool, Organya is cool, Lake Garda is cool … so many places are cool!
WHO HAVE YOU TRAINED WITH? HAVE YOU LEARNED A LOT FROM THE GUYS?
I trained a lot on my own! For me it was obvious how to learn the manoeuvre step by step. I was really shy to ask the guys about flying! I didn’t ask many times! It took a long time to understand and to feel the flying bits. But this way actually helped me progress fast. It allowed me to make mistakes which were not too big to master. I could eventually build up a big pillow of experience which helped me a lot!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACCIDENT? HOW DID YOU RECOVER?
It was 2 years ago while on my skis. I hit the ground hard! I broke my sacrum and my leg but luckily I survived! It took one year, with no flying, to fully recover! Psychologically, it is still a big issue when I’m flying close to the ground like in ground spiral, top landings or even soaring sometimes! But I work on it and I don’t push too much! It is improving step by step and I’m so happy if it works to top-land or if I come to relax in some of these scary moments. You should not be blind to your fears! They should lead you to be a better pilot!
YOU MADE 60 TURNS IN INFINITY LAST YEAR! WERE YOU INTENDING TO SET THE RECORD?
No! I continued training my Infinity in Turkey and on the last day I just did so many that I broke the record! I was so lucky that it was filmed! It was a nice day!
IS THIS STILL THE CURRENT RECORD?
The record is 76 now! Beverly made 75 one day – so I had to do more! It would be nice to break it with a good special moment! I don’t know how. But I like the way Felix Rodriguez did it – one day going xc with an acro wing over Mont Blanc, top landing and breaking the record! That would be me! I think 76 is nothing and if you can do 50 you can do 200! So it doesn’t matter! It just says you know the maneuvre!
DO YOU TRAIN WITH ANY OTHER WOMEN? HOW DOES IT HELP YOUR PROGRESSION?
To fly or train together you need to have a really good friendship with somebody who is flying more or less like you! There are not many girls in my area who fly with the same intention and intensity like me! Unfortunately, Beverly Jäger is not around much! She would be cool!
HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN WE GET MORE WOMEN FLYING ACRO?
I ended up in the World Cup really quick and I felt wrong there! So I think it has to be more fun for girls to participate! If you go to the World Cup you will fly one time, twice if you’re lucky! So imagine having 10 or 15 girls flying a comp… you could fly like 5 or 6 times. Isn’t that more fun?
Right now, there are no Austrian comps, no German comps, nothing! In Scandinavia they have around 5 a year! Look how many Scandinavian girls fly competition? I know that there are so many talented girls around so let’s try, no?
AS A WOMAN, DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A DISADVANTAGE IN PG?
Not really! Girls think more but this could be an advantage too! So normally we should fly like the guys!
ARE THERE ANY WOMEN IN PG THAT YOU LOOK UP TO?
If I look up to somebody then I look for XC girls! I like Klaudia Bulgakow! She told me a lot about XC and her history and strategy to become a world champion in cross country!
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE AMBITIONS FOR FLYING?
Fly XC again and travel flying wise!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE OR ENCOURAGEMENT TO SHARE FOR OTHER LADIES GETTING INTO ACRO?
You don’t have to fly! Take your time to learn it even if it takes long! Enjoy yourself in the air! Don’t define your personality through flying, you are more than this! Who has the loudest scream is usually wrong!