Melanie Pfister

2012 US Paragliding Women's National Champion

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US Rank: #1 Race-to-Goal (R2G) Paragliding Women’s National Champ

Event: Rat Race Paragliding Race to Goal US National Championship
Hometown: Valdosta, GA
Current City: Salt Lake City, UT
Years Flying: Since 2002
Skills: P4, I play Roller Derby
USHPA# 78701
Local Club: UHGPGA (Utah Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association)
Gear: Gin GTO Impress 2 Harness, depends Diapers
Sponsors: Kevin Pfister
Longest Flight: 115, Jupiter, Utah
Favorite Aspect of Paragliding: I am a Pilates Instructor by trade. I talk to people all day long. I look forward to flying because it’s quiet and I don’t have to talk to people. Oh, and you get to fly around!

A List of Comps You Participated in 2012: 2012 Rat Race/U.S. Nationals – Women’s U.S. Champion

Comps recent:
2011 U.S. World Team Member
2011 Rat Race – Women’s 1st female
2010 Women’s US Paragliding Champion
2010 Sun Valley Nationals – 1st Female, 21st overall
2010 Chelan PWC – 2nd female
2010 Chelan XC Open – 1st Female, 40th overall
2010 US Nationals Series – 16th Overall

What got you into competition?: I had a great desire to fly a 100 miles. I knew that I would need to learn a different skill set to do that so competition seemed to be the place to work on those skills. Also, I am actually scared of heights (not joking), and use to be nervous free-flying. I found that being on task at a competition took my mind off the act of flying and focused my attention on flying the course.

How have your skills improved since you got into competitions?: I would not really consider myself to be a “competition pilot” I’m definitely a cross-country pilot. Most of the skills I’ve gained from comp flying haven’t necessarily made me a better racer but have helped me to fly more efficiently xc. I find I’m more confident leaving climbs as soon as I top them out instead of waiting around to make a decision on where to go, I’ve already decided that as I’m climbing. I’m much better at recognizing when it is time to switch gears and maybe take climbs higher or leave climbs earlier or fly slower or faster given the conditions. But, I think the most important lesson competitions have taught me is to keep an open-mind. So many times a task will be written on the task board I am will think to myself “no way”. I don’t always get around the course but most often people do, even the most difficult task, someone will pull it off. So, I’ve learn to give it my full effort and remember it’s not over until your feet are on the ground.

Pilot Profile in Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine  (see Page 21)