Just before my first solo flight, Azizan asked me, “do you know how to do a tree landing?” I looked at him to check if he was joking. He was serious!
He then gave me a short lecture on how to land on a tree. My brain registered 3 things:
- Do not go in between 2 trees.
- Pick one tree only.
- HUG IT!
I had no idea, it was a foreshadowing of things to come. Haha.
Azizan helped me take off while Pyro waited for me in the landing zone. It took me some time to get in the air, but I did it on my third try. Sometimes my brain freezes when my body can’t do what it needs to do.
But the view from above makes all the hard work worth it.
I was enjoying my flight when I suddenly felt myself sinking. I slowly lost sight of the landing area and approached a world full of trees.
Strangely, I did not feel scared or anxious at all. It helped that my radio assistance did not panic. Pyro’s tone did not change even when he lost sight of me. His voice remained calm all throughout.
“Prepare for emergency landing,” he said in the most relaxed tone ever.
I can see the road and a piece of land ahead. I aimed for that. I was confident I could still land safely as I did it once before.
But before I can turn my wing, the wind betrayed me! In a second I felt my legs touching trees. I remembered Azizan’s words, HUG A TREE.
But before I can even think if that principle applied to palm oil trees, I landed on one! I could see the thorns on all the branches but I had to grab on tightly for dear life.
This is what a palm oil tree looks like. They have thorns all over to protect themselves from crazy paragliders.
Even while up the tree I was multitasking.
I was telling my radio contact that I was alive, hanging on to more branches because I was slipping down, eyeing my wing hoping it doesn’t rip apart, assuring the family who gathered below me that I was ok and laughing out loud because I found the whole scenario funny.
A few minutes later, Pyro and Jaidi appeared. Aahh, sweet rescue!
Surprisingly, I had no injuries except for scratches on my legs. Even my hand that held thorns had nothing. What a miracle! I guess the Lord was laughing with me as he saw me dangling on that tree.
When Azizan arrived he immediately said, “I forgot to tell you, when you pick a tree, do not hug a palm oil tree.” We burst out in laughter.
It took ages for them to free my wings. So while the big boys took care of my casualty, I played with the kids who owned the tree I “killed”. I am so thankful to them, they were my first rescuers. And the mom is a Filipina. ❤
I am so sorry for damaging your tree. I promise to lose weight soon and maybe visit you again next time.
And to them who saved my wings, my heart says thank you over and over.
Before the day ended I asked Pyro if he got scared when he lost track of me and knew I was about to crash. He replied with a smile,
“No, because I believed in you.”
For someone who just suffered from a mental breakdown, who doubts her physical ability to re-join the human race, these words are like fuel to a dying fire.
If you know someone crashing or have already landed on a tree, be careful with what you say. Your words can either lift them a bit higher or send them crashing down deeper. If you don’t know what to say, then quietly be by their side and help untangle their wings so they can fly again.