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50K Or Bust! - Review - Skywings May 2008

Nigel Page will need no introduction to Derbyshire pilots, but for those who haven't encountered him, note the following, He's been flying for over 20 years including power and sailplane flying, He's flown in the British paragliding Nationals and on the British team, and to this day holds the site record from Jenkin Hill in the Lakes, having flown 90km from there to around Moffat in Scotland in 1994, He's quiet, thoughtful and endlessly analytical about his flying. And now he's been good enough to put it all down on paper for the benefit of us lesser mortals.

The subtitle, Basic Techniques for Cross Country Paragliding in British Conditions, outlines the plot. What you get is 80* pages of distilled wisdom about exploiting the sort of conditions that we get in the UK. which is often quite at odds with Alpine thermalling and XC models. Illustrated by simple graphics, the book outlines the basics of thermalling, visualising lift and getting the best from it. Nigel's approach starts from scratch but doesn't talk down to the reader, and is repeatedly referenced to actual situations and his own experience.

Thermal sources, cloud shapes, searching for lift and using cloud streets are among a range of headings that deal with pretty much everything you are likely to encounter in straightforward UK flying. Reading this book won't turn you into a sky god, but it will help you to understand howto get away from the ridge, and how to keep going. Why only 50k or bust? Because, "50K is a long way. If we can fly 50K it is mainly a mat­ter of application, tenacity and luck to fly 100K." This sound observation is rather typical of the book. You get the feeling that Nigel is passing on ideas that he's honed by years of trying to prize a few more miles out of the sky every time he goes out. If you've got a CP or Pilot rating and an airmap. and hope that this year is going to be the one when you begin to leave the hill behind, 50k or bust' is a very good primer to get you on your way. It doesn't overcomplicate, it's written in a very easy style (I'd never thought of air sulking in val­leys before), and it's emphatically not about competi­tion flying. Nigel says, "A comprehensive book on cross-country paragliding would have been far too complex and not what early pilots need." I've already had a few reports from readers who seem to think it's about right. I think he's pitched it just right too.

This is the first time I've encountered the phenomenon of print-on-demand books. When you order a copy it's run off for you by the printer. That allows the author to continue to correct any errors and make changes, and I believe that Nigel has already added a few diagrams and paragraphs to his book. Print-on-demand is a new medium and I hope we'll see a few more flying books produced in the same way. But hats off to Nigel Page for leading the way, and for sharing his long-accumulated store of knowledge.

Joe Schofield


* N.B. Additions and improvements have since increased 50K Or Bust! to 159 pages with 150 illustrations. Much of the additional material is in the form of a “survival guide” addressing safety issues.